Missing Alar Ligament

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  • Ghostgirl
    Participant
    Post count: 4
    #25535 |

    Hello:
    I was belatedly diagnosed with a missing alar ligament. I have blinding headaches, my left jaw joint dislocates when I yawn, my left ear buzzes constantly, and if I turn my head a certain way, I go completely deaf in it. I also have had bad neck pain, as well as severe heel pain. My doctor has not proposed any options other than “tough it out.” If I need surgery, I want to get it done ASAP. Can you help?

    Dr. Corenman
    Moderator
    Post count: 5543

    Alar ligaments are almost never congenitally absent. I would wonder how this condition was diagnosed. Your jaw joint (TMJ) is not connected to the upper cervical spine (see https://neckandback.com/conditions/stabilizing-ligaments-upper-cervical-spine-occiput-c2/ to understand the anatomy) so this jaw symptoms are not going to be related to your neck.

    Deafness with head rotation is also a symptom that I am hard-pressed to understand the connection. Head position could possibly cause vertebral artery interruption (rarely) but this would cause dizziness and imbalance, not hearing loss.

    Please describe how you were given this diagnosis.

    Dr. Corenman

    PLEASE REMEMBER, THIS FORUM IS MEANT TO PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION ON SPINE ANATOMY, CONDITIONS AND TREATMENTS. TO GET AN ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS, YOU MUST VISIT A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL IN PERSON.
    If this forum has helped you, please let Dr. Corenman know!

    Ghostgirl
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    I was diagnosed by an MRI. I spoke with my doctor today, and he said that I must have misunderstood him: the ligament is ruptured, not missing. I have shoulder pain that is creeping down into my chest as well. I have dizziness, which causes nausea. I gave him your name, so he may be contacting you soon. I do not remember any injury which would cause the “whiplash” symptoms. I’m up for a road trip to CO if it turns out that you can help. Thank you so much for responding…I’m desperate for help.

    Ghostgirl
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    I should mention that I’ve had ten lower back surgeries due to a tragic Good Samaritan incident in 2004. Maybe some of those issues have something to do with some of my symptoms, although said symptoms have impacted only the lower half of my body. From what I’ve read on the subject of ruptured alar ligaments, it can cause cervical spine instability. That is the LAST thing I need. Still desperate…

    Dr. Corenman
    Moderator
    Post count: 5543

    Alar ligaments rarely ever rupture alone as there has to be significant head trauma that normally also causes bony ligament avulsions (fractures). Did you read the section on upper cervical spine anatomy? You will see that you can’t easily rupture only one ligament as they are sandwiched together. I would look for some other cause of your upper neck symptoms unless you are the one out of a million who actually has an alar ligament avulsion. Sorry to hear your lumbar spine surgery story but hopefully you are doing well there.

    Dr. Corenman

    PLEASE REMEMBER, THIS FORUM IS MEANT TO PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION ON SPINE ANATOMY, CONDITIONS AND TREATMENTS. TO GET AN ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS, YOU MUST VISIT A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL IN PERSON.
    If this forum has helped you, please let Dr. Corenman know!

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