Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon
Many spinal injuries that involve the cervical spine are the result of a violent collision that compresses the cervical spine against the shoulders. The force can be so great that a vertebra fractures or it may even burst into small fragments. Examples of this type of injury include striking your head against the bottom of a pool in shallow water or the impact caused by "spear" tackling where a football player uses the crown of the helmet to stop an opposing football player.
Cervical spine injuries can also occur during motor vehicle accidents when the head is violently jerked either backwards or forwards. This type of accident may not cause a fracture but instead injure the muscles and ligaments of the neck. The resulting injury is a neck sprain, which is commonly called whiplash. Where the impact is severe, the spine may be fractured or dislocated.
One of the most severe types of cervical injury may result in instability of the occipitocervical junction (the interface between the cranium and the cervical spine). In this situation, an Occipital Cervical Fusion may be required.
Disruption of the spinal column may lead to mechanical instability of the cervical spine. The degree of instability depends on several factors that may result in neurologic disability, secondary to spinal cord compression. There are a broad variety of cervical injuries with varying degrees of clinical importance, from the clinically insignificant to the potentially disastrous. As many as 39% of cervical fractures have some degree of associated neurologic deficit.
The risk of neurologic injury resulting from spinal injury, increases with degenerative changes related to aging, arthritic conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), spinal stenosis, as well as the specific mechanism and location of the injury.
Dr. Haid is one of the world's leading experts in the treatment and repair of cervical spine injuries. If you want to learn more about Dr. Haid's contribution to cervical spine surgery, you may wish to visit the Patents and Innovations area of this website.