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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

Many Neck Injuries Go Undetected

Occult Ligament Tears are complete tears or ruptures of the ligament (ligaments connect bone to bone). In neck trauma, such as whiplash, the ligaments are severely compromised and often rupture due to overstretching, as a result of the trauma. Often, patients present clinically with severe symptoms, yet are both neurologically and structurally intact. Many times with occult ligament tears, the structure stays in place due to the supportive surrounding tissues and therefore, neurologically, nothing is compressed or damaged. Over time, those supportive tissues will become lax and the joint will first aberrantly position, followed by neurological compromise. Clinical findings demonstrate that ultimately, the joint will prematurely degenerate. According to Robert et al. (2000), negative X-Rays and MRI’s do not exclude cervical injury with significant mechanism of injuries. They conclude that examination under fluoroscopy or digital motion x-ray is an effective tool to diagnose the occult ligament tear. Therefore, it is not responsible to consider that no injuries were sustained in the presence of negative x-rays or MRI’s until all testing has been concluded.


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Robert III, K. Q., Ricciardi, J. E., & Harris, M. B. (2000). Occult ligamentous injury of the cervical spine. Southern Medical Journal, 93(10), 974-976.



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