The anatomy of a work-related cervical or neck injury centers on the spinal segment. Each spinal segment includes two vertebrae separated by an intervertebral disc, the nerves that leave the spinal cord at that level, and the small facet joints (described later) that link each level of the spinal column.
An intervertebral disc is made of connective tissue. Connective tissue is the material that holds the living cells of the body together. Most connective tissue is made of fibers of a material called collagen. In some cases, the collagen fibers join together to form a structure like a rope. In other cases, the fibers are arranged like a piece of cloth, or knitted materials such as you find in a sweater. The disc is a specialized connective tissue structure that separates the two vertebral bodies of the spinal segment. The disc normally works like a shock absorber. It protects the spine against the daily pull of gravity. It also protects the spine during activities that put strong force on the spine, such as jumping, running, and lifting.
An intervertebral disc is made up of two parts. The center, called the nucleus, is spongy. It provides most of the ability to absorb shock. The nucleus is held in place by the annulus, a series of strong ligament rings surrounding it. Ligaments are strong connective tissues that attach bones to other bones.
There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae, one on each side of the spine. A facet joint is made up of small, bony knobs that line up along the back of the spine. Where these knobs meet, they form a joint that connects the two vertebrae.
The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is a smooth, rubbery material that covers the ends of most joints. It allows the bone ends to move against each other smoothly, without pain.
Two spinal nerves exit the sides of each spinal segment, one on the left and one on the right. As the nerves leave the spinal cord, they pass through a small bony tunnel on each side of the vertebra, called a neural foramen.
The workers comp attorneys and paralegals at McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin handle work-related cervical or neck injury cases every day. Neck injuries are different from low back injuries particularly with regard to causation. Occasionally a traumatic or one-time injury, the most likely causes are job duties over time. We take care in delineating a clear job description for the doctor and/or surgeon to rely upon in giving their expert opinions to get workers compensation benefits for our clients.