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Jeffrey Cronk, DC JDJan 30, 2024 4:47:22 PM4 min read

Independent Testing for Spinal Ligament Injuries: A Must For Practice Protection


When ligaments supporting the spine are compromised, the repercussions are profound. If not expertly handled, it often leads to long-term chronic pain and sometimes even requires spinal fusion surgery as a last resort to stabilize these injuries—a procedure recognized and supported under the surgical guidelines of leading insurers like Aetna, Blue Cross, and Cigna. The gravity of these injuries is undisputed, yet in an era where meticulous examination is the norm, the narrative has shifted. Insurers are increasingly vigilant, scrutinizing injury providers with a lens that suspects exaggeration of diagnoses to justify inflated care expenses. This skepticism not only invites unwelcome scrutiny from insurance carriers but also ushers in a cycle of time-intensive and costly disputes. The solution? Independent testing. This approach not only mitigates the insurer's skepticism but also elevates the credibility of healthcare providers that are using independent testing.

In the intricate world of spinal health, the precision of diagnostic testing cannot be overstated. Particularly in the realm of non-disc ligament injuries, the need for accurate and unbiased excessive motion study testing is paramount. With 31 years of experience in this field, the insights shared here stem from a deep understanding of spine injury diagnostics, and the market itself.

Understanding Excessive Motion Study Testing

At the heart of spinal diagnostics lies the excessive motion test. This test is crucial for identifying damages to non-disc ligaments, a key component of spinal injuries. The spine, a complex structure of bone and connective tissue, including over 100 joints and 220 specialized ligaments, is susceptible to two main types of damage: fractures and connective tissue injuries, ie., spinal ligament injuries. An MRI is the key to determining any disc injury that could be involved. Excessive motion testing is the key to testing for the non-disc spinal support ligament injuries.  This is accomplished by accurately measuring for excessive angulation and translation patterns, which reveals the severity and location of such injuries.  Injuries to these ligaments are not routinely or easily found on MRI.  So MRI plays little role in their testing.

The Case for Independent Testing

The importance of conducting these tests independently cannot be overstated. Independent testing ensures credibility and eliminates potential biases that might arise when a treating provider conducts their own evaluations. The consequences of not testing or missing these injuries are not trivial; as they can lead to:

  • Misdiagnoses
  • Improper treatment
  • Unnecessary or incorrect surgical interventions, such as spinal fusion surgery
  • Impacting the patient's treatment and recovery journey significantly in a negative way

These are some of the most serious injuries that the spine can have and whenever possible they should be tested with an unbiased, independent testing service that uses accepted, FDA-cleared technology.

Challenges of Self-Testing

Navigating the complexities of self-testing, practitioners face a labyrinth of potential pitfalls. At the heart of these challenges lies the risk of result manipulation or errors—a concern that can be as unintentional as it is deliberate. Often, these inaccuracies stem from the use of subpar software riddled with programming flaws or from procedural missteps in image acquisition, leading to outcomes that are both dubious and unreliable. Furthermore, providers who bill for these procedures shoulder an additional burden. They become stewards of the system, tasked with an intimate understanding of its workings and vigilant for any inherent flaws. This responsibility amplifies the stakes, placing them in a precarious position where the line between oversight and accountability is razor-thin.

Staying in Your Lane: A Strategy for Success

For healthcare providers, focusing on their areas of expertise – "staying in their lane" – is a strategy that promotes both professional integrity and patient welfare. Delegating specialized testing to unbiased third parties not only enhances the credibility of the findings but also allows practitioners to concentrate on their core competencies, leading to better patient care. This approach is also more likely to be respected and trusted by medical professionals, legal experts, and insurance companies.

Leveraging Expertise for Better Outcomes

The use of top-tier radiologists and specialized imaging centers for excessive motion study testing exemplifies a commitment to excellence in patient care. It demonstrates a practitioner's dedication to leveraging the best available resources for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. This approach, while potentially requiring more effort in terms of logistics, pays off in the form of reliable, high-quality diagnostic data.


The independence and accuracy of excessive motion study testing in non-disc ligament injuries are non-negotiable for effective diagnosis and treatment. By embracing independent testing and focusing on their primary medical responsibilities, healthcare providers can ensure the highest standards of patient care and professional credibility. This approach not only benefits patients but also contributes to the practitioner’s growth and success in the field of spinal health and injury management.