Atlantoaxial instability affects your upper neck, where your head connects with your spine, most often appearing in adults with rheumatoid arthritis and in patients of all ages who suffer a head injury. When you need treatment for atlantoaxial instability, you need the expertise of the board-certified neurosurgeons at The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have years of experience performing the delicate surgery required to realign and stabilize your vertebrae. To schedule an appointment, call the office today.
The atlantoaxial joint is where your first cervical vertebra, called the atlas, connects with the second cervical vertebra, which is known as the axis.
The atlas, which has a hollow ring shape, holds your head and allows you to nod your head up and down. The axis contains a peg-like bone that goes up through the center of the atlas and connects with the atlas bone to form a pivot joint. This joint allows your head to rotate.
Atlantoaxial instability occurs when you have excessive movement between the atlas and axis. Instability leads to atlantoaxial subluxation or dislocation between the two bones, which in turn can result in compressed nerves.
The causes of atlantoaxial instability fall into three general categories:
Atlantoaxial instability causes symptoms such as:
You may also develop trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve condition that causes facial pain triggered by movements such as speaking, chewing, or brushing your teeth.
After performing a thorough physical examination, your provider at The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group orders an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to determine the severity of your condition. Atlantoaxial instability that causes minimal symptoms may only need close monitoring and conservative treatment, such as temporary immobilization and range-of-motion exercises.
When the joint is unstable, however, surgery is the only treatment available. Your neurosurgeon at The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group may perform an occipitocervical reduction and fusion or a C1-2 stabilization, surgeries in which the bones are realigned and, with the use of screws and rods, restore stability.
If you sustain a head or neck injury or develop neck pain, call The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group today.