Cervical subluxation is a flexion injury. There is no bony damage but the soft tissues are extensively damaged and the posterior ligaments torn. The affected vertebra hinges forward on the one below, opening up the interspinous space posteriorly then falls back again.
Radiologically there may be an increased gap between the spines of affected vertebra, but the film often appears normal - flexion radiology may be required to demonstrate the instability.
Treatment is usually a collar for six weeks. However, if there is persistent instability a posterior spinal fusion may be required.
Last reviewed 01/2018