In this, the last of the three part series on the anatomical and functional perspectives of the cervical spine, the clinical entity-instability-is addressed. A summative definition of instability, addressing both the clinical and radiographic issues, is presented based on current available literature. The etiology of instability is discussed as it pertains to three possible mechanisms: acute trauma, latent evidence of trauma and repetitive microtrauma. The anatomical, clinical and radiographic aspects in each of these meachanisms is discussed. A case report is presented to illustrate the salient features of this potentially disastrous condition. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of defineable limits in each of the presented definitions, calling for future research into the clinical and radiographic correlations of abnormal cervical motion.
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