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A surprising case of a cervical spine subluxation

PainSci » bibliography » Moon et al 2008
Tags: anatomy, neat, etiology, biology, neck, arthritis, neurology, spinal adjustment, fun, biomechanics, pro, head/neck, spine, aging, pain problems, treatment

Four articles on PainSci cite Moon 2008: 1. The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain2. The Complete Guide to Neck Pain & Cricks3. Does Spinal Manipulation Work?4. Spinal Subluxation

PainSci notes on Moon 2008:

This paper describes the case of a man who developed severe neck and shoulder pain after a fall. It turned out that a part of one of his neck vertebrae was entirely missing, since birth (“a relatively uncommon developmental anomaly”). The fall subluxed the joint substantially. Although painful, the lack of neurological symptoms is surprising — and more evidence that nerve roots are not easily pinched.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

STUDY DESIGN: Case description.

OBJECTIVES: To describe a case of traumatic subluxation in association with a congenitally absent cervical pedicle, and review the pertinent medical literature.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The congenital absence of a cervical pedicle is a relatively uncommon developmental anomaly that is frequently mistaken for a unilateral facet fracture-dislocation in the context of acute trauma. Because there is little evidence of recovery after surgery, and the symptoms are usually not disabling, surgery is not recommended for most cases.

METHODS: A 62-year-old man presented with severe neck and right shoulder pain after falling. Plain radiographs and computed tomography of the cervical spine showed the typical features of a congenitally absent pedicle at C6 with anterolisthesis of C6 on C7. We performed anterior interbody fusion at C6-C7 because of persistent neck pain and progressive instability.

RESULTS: Complete restoration of the C6-C7 subluxation was achieved with resolution of the presenting symptoms. At 18 months follow-up, flexion and extension dynamic radiographs demonstrated good alignment with solid fusion at C6-C7.

CONCLUSION: Although conservative treatment is the primary treatment for this clinical entity, surgery is an alternative option for those patients who fail to achieve recovery after conservative treatment or exhibit instability.

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