Anterior longitudinal ligament

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Andeela Hafeez, Rachael Lowe, Evan Thomas and George Prudden

Description

A strong band of variable thickness and width that covers the anterior aspects of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs throughout the length of the vertebral column. From superficial to deep its ligamentous fibers span varying lengths:

  • the deepest fibers are short intersegmental fibers
  • the intermediate fibers span two to three vertebrae
  • the superficial fibers span three to four vertebrae

It is thick, yet narrow, over the vertebral bodies where it is loosely bound to the periosteum. At the levels of the intervertebral disc, it widens and the fibers strongly bind to the fibrocartilage disc, the hyaline cartilage vertebral end plates, and the margins of the vertebrae.

Anterior Longintudinal Ligament - AP view
Anterior Longintudinal Ligament - Lateral view


Anatomy

A primary spine stabilizer about one-inch wide, the ALL runs the entire length of the spine from the base of the skull to the sacrum. It connects the front (anterior) of the vertebral body to the front of the annulus fibrosis.[1]

Attachments

It’s attached to the upper and lower edges of each vertebral body.[2]

Function

Limit extension of the vertebral column and reinforce the intervertebral disc.

Pathology/injury

Anterior longitudinal ligament is stretched or tears, as the head snaps forward and then back again causing a whiplash injury.[3] In addition to the extremely common ligament sprains that nearly everyone experiences at some point in his or her life, ligaments can also calcify later in life. This calcification of the ligaments causes noticeable loss of flexibility and can even lead to chronic pain when a spinal nerve or the spinal cord becomes irritated or constricted as a result of the deterioration[4]

Techniques

Palpation

Located on anterior surface of the bodies of vertebral column.

Examination

Patient demonstrates limitations in mobility with focal tenderness.

Treatment

ist relief the pain and If chronic pain persists after several weeks of conservative treatment, Laser Spine Institute may be able to alleviate your discomfort with a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure – known as a laminotomy – that is designed to decompress the spinal nerves[4]

References

  1. http://www.coloradospineinstitute.com/subject.php?pn=anatomy-ligaments-17
  2. https://aclandanatomy.com/abstract/4010460
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiplash_%28medicine%29
  4. 4.0 4.1 https://www.laserspineinstitute.com/learn_more/glossary/definition/anterior_longitudinal_ligament/249/