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Acute Injuries to Cervical Joints An Autopsy Study of Neck Sprain

Taylor, J. R., MD, PhD; Twomey, LT., PhD*

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A comparative study of cervical spines from 16 subjects who died of major trauma and 16 control subjects who died of natural causes, showed clefts in the cartillage plates of the intervertebral discs in 15 of 16 spines from the trauma victims. These were quite distinct from the uncovertebral clefts and central disc fissures that are a normal feature of aging in cervical discs. Posterior disc herniation through a damaged anulus fibrosus and hemarthrosis in facet joints were also observed. No directly comparable lesions were found in the control subjects, but two discs in this group showed “rim lesions,” which may be old injuries. Disc lesions are common in injured cervical spines where translation is much grater than in the lumbar spine and these lesions are slow to heal. It is suggested that such injuries could cause the pain experienced by patients with neck sprain.

Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, Nedlands, Western Australia, and Department of Anatomy and Human Biology,*Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.