Occult Ligament Tears are complete tears or ruptures of the ligament (ligaments connect bone to bone). Neck trauma, such as whiplash from a car accident, the ligaments are severely compromised and often rupture from overstretching, as a result of the trauma (like whiplash in an auto accident). Often, patients present clinically with severe symptoms, yet are both neurologically and structurally intact.
Frequently with occult ligament tears, the structure stays in place due to the supportive surrounding tissues and therefore, neurologically, nothing is compressed or damaged. But over time, those supportive tissues will become lax and the joint will first aberrantly position (misalignment), followed by neurological compromise. Clinical findings demonstrate that ultimately, the joint will prematurely degenerate (as a result of the misalignment). 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.
Currently fluoroscopy or digital motion x-rays are NOT frequently ordered, but can be done when medically appropriate to diagnose an occult ligament tear or other pathology. If you have been in a recent car accident or other trauma, then call your Maitland Chiropractor today 407-629-5333 to discuss examination and treatment options for pain relief.
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