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The Spinal KineticsJun 18, 2024 5:00:00 PM2 min read

Silent Struggles: The Unseen Impact of Undiagnosed Spinal Injuries


When a patient grapples with an undiagnosed medical condition, the repercussions can be profound and far-reaching, especially when it comes to spinal injuries. It's a prevalent issue in the field, often leading patients on a frustrating journey of misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments.

The Perils of Vague Terminology

In the realm of spinal injuries, clarity is paramount. Yet, critical details are often overlooked, leading to a cycle of ineffective treatments and dashed hopes for recovery. Vague terms like "whiplash" or "neck injury" are often cited, but these are not diagnoses; they are not injuries themselves. When they are used or spoken, it is akin to saying someone has a "body injury" without pinpointing the actual damage.

Symptoms vs. Diagnoses

Take, for instance, the case of a patient purportedly suffering from a C5 disc herniation. The symptoms described—cognitive dysfunction, headaches, blurred vision—don't align with typical manifestations of such an injury. The consequences of undiagnosed spinal injuries are dire, with studies indicating that over 55% of patients may never fully recover. Because the crux of their condition remains elusive, proper evaluation and treatment are often evaded.  Also, in this example above, the disc, in this case, has no clinical evidence of being caused by the accident, so at this point, it remains by evidence to be a pre-existing condition.

A Call for Comprehensive Evaluation

A comprehensive understanding of spinal injuries is crucial. There are primarily three ways the spine can be injured: fractures, excessive motion due to ligament damage, and herniations caused by disc (ligament) damage. Identifying these injuries is  straightforward. Fractures are found on CT or X-ray, excessive motion is found on stress X-rays with a CRMA™ report, and the MRI shows the status of any disc injury.  I could not be more straightforward.  The excessive motion test itself should be done whenever possible by an unbiased medical radiologist, using FDA-cleared AI radiology technology when possible.  This removes all treating provider bias.

Beyond Conventional Imaging

Specialized tests come into play. Excessive motion testing, for instance, can pinpoint subtle ligament damage that traditional imaging may miss. The onus doesn't solely fall on healthcare providers. Patients and their advocates—be it attorneys or family members—play a pivotal role in advocating for proper diagnosis and treatment.


The path to recovery begins with understanding. By shedding light on the prevalence and consequences of undiagnosed spinal injuries, a way can be paved for better outcomes and brighter futures for patients worldwide.