Spinal ligaments are bands of tough connective tissue that connect spinal bones together. These pliable bands of tissue permit and limit flexion, extension and motion in the neck and back.
Comprised of mostly collagen, ligaments are found throughout the body and are the main connective tissue for bones and joints. As such, ligaments provide stability between bones, preventing joints from excessive movement, or hyper-flexion – for example, ligaments help prevent knees and elbows from bending backwards.
In the spine, ligaments hold each vertebra together, and they also connect one vertebra to another along the spinal column. Tendons are similar in structure to spinal ligaments, but tendons connect spinal bones to spinal muscles.
The spinal column has a complex system of ligaments that essentially:
- Connect vertebrae and hold them together
- Provide a protective layer of tissue for the facet joints
- Work in conjunction with back and neck muscles to support the spine and hold it upright
A “torn” spinal ligament, also known as a sprained spinal ligament, occurs when a ligament is torn from its attachments. Symptoms of a torn or sprained spinal ligament include pain that can last for weeks, as well as muscle spasms, in some instances. Due to their limited blood supply, ligaments can take a long time to heal.
Most spinal ligament injuries occur in the lower back, or lumbar region, of the spinal column. That’s because we use our lower backs for so many activities and movements, including lifting, standing, running and sitting, among other activities. As a matter of fact, ligament sprains are one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Typically, spinal ligament sprains can be managed with the aid of conservative treatments such as rest, medications, physical therapy and wearing a neck or back brace.
If your neck or back pain persists, consider contacting Laser Spine Institute to find out if any of our minimally invasive procedures can help relieve your pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute for your MRI review to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.