An often-missed diagnosis in patients who were involved in a motor vehicle accident is ligament laxity or alteration of motion segment integrity (AOMSI). This is also known as spinal instability. It is an injury that occurs to the ligaments in the spine and causes them to go into abnormal movement patterns. The ligaments are the structures that hold the pieces of the spinal cord together. They are the tissue that holds our bones together. Each motion unit in the spine is held together by ten ligaments. The purpose of these structures is to keep our bones in a proper position and to allow for normal movement. When a ligament gets damaged, we have ligament laxity which is excess movement. When excess force is put through the ligaments, i.e. when we are involved in a motor vehicle accident, it can cause the structure of the ligaments to be altered and cause instability.
Symptoms of spinal ligament injuries include neck or back pain, pain radiating to the upper or lower extremities, tingling, numbness or burning in the extremities and headaches. It is of the utmost importance that a patient involved in a motor vehicle accident sees a physician that understands the importance of an accurate diagnosis in the development of the patient’s treatment plan. Just as the utilization of an MRI can help a physician diagnose a disc injury in the spine, use of computerized measuring procedures can assist in the diagnosis of these permanent type ligament injuries.
These injuries are permanent in nature and to have your best chance at minimizing their impact on your normal activities of daily living it is important that you have a treatment plan specific to this significant injury. Accurate diagnosis, effective treatment plan and proper understanding of the ligament injury will allow for a patient to minimize the long-term effects of injury to the ligaments in the spine.
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