Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Low Speed Rear-End Collisions

Normal movement of the cervical spine is a smooth motion in which every vertebral segment contributes evenly. Neck motion during a rear-end collision is completely different from everyday motion. Very early in a collision, the lower cervical spine experiences a rapid bending while the rest of the cervical spine remains relatively straight. This rapid bending can strain the joints of the lower cervical spine, resulting in tears and inflammation of the joints. The rapid motion of the neck during a crash can result in a number of injuries-many of which are impossible to see on x-rays or MRI. The facet joints are the key to normal, healthy spinal motion. The facets are on the rear portion of the vertebrae, and angled backwards. During normal spinal motion, the joints glide over one another smoothly and evenly. The pain from inflamed facet joints is transmitted by the medial  branch of the dorsal ramus. Stimulation of the facet nerves ofter results in referred pain. Referred pain is when pain is felt in a different area of the body from where the injury actually lies. Injury to the lower facet joints can create pain in the lower neck, shoulders and in the mid-back.

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