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Degenerative spine disease. Started chronic neck pain. MRI showed fused c5 c6. Any suggestion?

Feb 2014
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 5930 Questions
I am an attorney researching an injury suffered by a client and I stumbled on this website, do you mind answering an attorney's question? Client is 55 years old with normal degen spine disease findings for his age, was in a very high impact rear end collision (bullet vehicle at 50 mph) which started chronic neck pain, had physical therapy, meds etc, finally one year later an MRI ordered and it was determined that C5-C6 have fused, impression states due to developmental etiology, prior infection or trauma, I have not seen this before on an MRI, how frequently does such a phenomena occur? the below info is for male client age 55, not me
Posted Sun, 10 Feb 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 2 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

I would like to place few facts that how fusion of cervical vertebra occurs after injury-

In most people, cervical disk injury is a slow progressive disease occurring over decades. The stress and micro-traumas imposed by the constant motion of the cervical spine, and at times the awkward positions of the neck for prolonged periods of time, all take their toll on the cervical disks.

The disks also age over time.When it ages, the disk gradually collapses, which allows the vertebrae on each side to have excessive motion (small movements barely visible with the naked eye). The increased motion leads to accelerated wear and tear of the joints that articulate the vertebrae with each other, causing the bone to overgrow in a failed attempt to stabilize the spine, thus causing ankylosis of joint.
The phenomenon of cervical vertebra fusion(bony ankylosis) is quite common after trauma or infection.

Hope this information helps you for your client. Please do write back if you have any additional concerns.

Wishing you good health...

Dr Saurabh Gupta.
Orthopaedic Surgeon.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Degenerative spine disease. Started chronic neck pain. MRI showed fused c5 c6. Any suggestion? 31 minutes later
thank you, after initial inquiry to you, I reviewed a radiology report done on the day of the motor vehicle collision, that report showed near complete bony ankylosis at C5/6, so it looks like its degenerative, however, prior to this major car impact, he was assymptomatic, in no pain, is it possible that he would have remained assymptomatic but for the injury impact? would facet injections be appropriate to control his pain in his neck and arms, or is surgery an option? thats 3 questions +, thank you for your gracious reply, XXXXXXX XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 4 hours later
Thanks for posting your query again.

It is possible that he would have remained assymptomatic . In most people this slow disease, which can be seen on plain X-rays, CT scan, or MRI, will cause very few symptoms. In fact, over half of the population over age 50 has some sign of disk injury, but very few will seek treatments by a physician.

Facet injections are good option to control his pain in his neck and arms. In severe cases surgery might required.

Hope this discussion was useful. Please close this discussion, if you do not have any other queries. I would appreciate your reviews about this service.

Dr Saurabh Gupta.
Orthopaedic Surgeon.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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