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The Medical Legal Expert Blog is your source for some of the most helpful and useful medical and demonstrative evidence facts and information.

Medical Legal Educational Blog for Personal Injury Attorneys

Understanding the Osteophyte/Disc Complex in Spinal Trauma

By: Robert L. Shepherd MS, Certified Medical Illustrator, President & CEO, MediVisuals Inc.

A traumatic event causing injury to an intervertebral disc may also cause subtle injuries to the bones around the disc. During an extreme lateral flexion injury (shown in the image below), the edges of the bone are driven together, injuring both the disc and the bone. As the bone/disc junction heals, overgrowths referred to as osteophytes may form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osteophytes take weeks or months to develop following a traumatic event; therefore, any osteophytes that are present soon after a traumatic event are likely pre-existing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The osteophytes themselves may compress the neural elements as in the illustration above; however, in most situations, the osteophytes are a part of an OSTEOPHYTE/DISC COMPLEX. This is when the osteophytes and disc extend beyond their normal limits and compress the neural elements (spinal cord, nerve roots). In cases where osteophytes may have pre-existed a traumatic event, worsening of the disc bulge could occur following the trauma, resulting in new or aggravated symptoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes disc and ligament injuries occur on the same side as the force of impact. Other times, they occur on the opposite side. Injuries to the disc on the same side as the force are the result of stretching and tearing forces. On the opposite side, compression forces result in tears and micro fractures of the tissues and bones. (see illustration below). Osteophytes and facet hypertrophy can also form following injuries to intervertebral discs and ligaments. Injuries to the discs and ligaments result in instability and excessive motion of the joints that, in turn, results in constant trauma to the bone/disc and ligament junctions. This ongoing trauma results in overgrowth of the bones as it continually cycles through episodes of healing and reinjury.

 

 

 

 

 

© MediVisuals, Inc. - Permission to use any image (or parts thereof) posted on this blog in depositions, demand packages, settlement hearings, mediation, trial, and/or any other litigation or non-litigation use can be obtained by contacting MediVisuals at www.medivisuals.com – otherwise copyright laws prohibit their use for those or other purposes.

Originally Posted by MediVisuals at 11/12/2013

Bob Shepherd, MS, CMI, FAMI 

Bob Shepherd is a Certified Medical Illustrator, having graduated from one of only four accredited medical illustration graduate programs in North America.

 

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