What is a Spinal Ligament Injury?
The individual bones of the spine (called vertebrae) are held together by strong fibrous bands of tissue called ligaments. When these ligaments are stretched too far or too quickly, they become strained, torn, and damaged, frequently resulting in inflammation and chronic pain. Auto accidents, sports injuries and other traumatic events are the most frequent causes of these spinal ligament injuries.
How Spinal Ligament Injuries Occur
Often, during an auto accident or serious sports injury, the lower body moves quickly from the force of the impact while the head remains in place due to inertia. This difference in motion causes the bones of the spine (vertebrae) to be forced apart, resulting in shear and compressive forces that overstretch the ligaments of the neck and back. This weakens and inflames the ligaments causing pain, inflammation, and spinal instability. When these damaged ligaments become swollen, they can cause pressure on the surrounding nerves and produce neurological symptoms and pain.
If the trauma is severe enough, it may also cause a herniation of the spinal disc. These fibrous cushions located between the bones of the spine (called discs) are composed of a hard exterior and a soft “jelly-like” center. When this fibrous outer ring is torn, the softer center can push through (herniate) causing irritation of the nerves and pain down the arms or legs.
Diagnosing Spinal Ligament Injuries
Spinal ligament injuries like whiplash cannot always be detected using standard x-ray or MRI techniques. As a result, many doctors often miss or delay the correct diagnosis, resulting in chronic pain and symptoms. Therefore, it is so important to find a doctor who is experienced in the proper diagnosis and treatment of spinal ligament injuries.
Proper diagnosis and early treatment greatly reduce your risk of developing chronic pain after a spinal ligament injury. At Auto Injury Spinal Rehab, we have been helping our patients recover from debilitating spinal ligament injuries, whiplash, and sports injuries for more than 30 years. Please call our office at 509-547-4207 to see if we can help you.