Depending on the length of Ginger's tail, at least 33 vertebrae make up her backbone. The top seven in her neck are known as the cervical vertebrae. Injury to the cervical vertebrae can cause her a lot of discomfort, just as it would in humans.
If Ginger is an active kitty, she might have hurt her neck without you knowing. Perhaps she jumped or moved suddenly, played a bit too roughly or took a tumble, causing her to tweak her neck. Or she could have had an unfortunate encounter with a car. Although neck injuries aren't all that common in cats, neck pain is often the result of a muscle strain or sprain.
If Ginger's neck is injured, you might notice stiffness in her neck, a change in posture, reluctance to move or raise her head, crying or moaning when you touch her neck, or visible trauma such as swelling or scratches and lethargy. A serious injury that leads to lack of coordination, weakness or paralysis is an emergency that requires an immediate visit to the vet. After a thorough physical exam, the vet might do additional tests, such as CT scans, MRI scans or X-rays of her neck and spine. Blood tests might be ordered to rule out certain diseases.
Some cats have a twisted neck, which veterinary chiropractors consider fairly easy to correct. If one or more of Ginger's cervical vertebrae are out of line, it's called a subluxation. A cat with a cervical subluxation often can't lift her head, or she'll keep it tucked down to the side. A veterinary chiropractor can often treat this condition with just a few visits; sometimes a single adjustment is all that's necessary.
Caudal Cervical Syndrome
Also known as Wobbler syndrome, caudal cervical syndrome occurs in the last three vertebrae of Ginger's neck. Over time, this part of her neck absorbs the stress of her body's motion and sometimes causes a subluxation in these vertebrae. Rough play with her housemate can sometimes injure these vertebrae. Symptoms include difficulty walking, including spastic paralysis of the front legs. A veterinary chiropractor will adjust Ginger according to the site of the subluxation, probably over multiple visits. A more traditional route of treatment can include surgery.
Treating Neck Injuries
If Ginger has injured her neck, treatment will depend on the injury and its severity. If it's a sprain it won't show up on any X-ray, and you might have to wait it out and keep her quiet. If Ginger likes to get into things or lives with small children, she might need to be isolated in a quiet room or in a cage outfitted with a litter box and bedding, so she'll have time to heal. As mentioned earlier, some injuries require radical treatment such as surgery. If you are open to veterinary chiropractic, it could be a non-invasive way to put Ginger on the road to recovery.