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Papers of the Week

2022 Jul 19

Am J Case Rep


Atlantoaxial Subluxation Secondary to SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Rare Orthopedic Complication from COVID-19.


Barker S, Mujallid R, Bayanzay K
Am J Case Rep. 2022 Jul 19; 23:e936128.
PMID: 35851056.


BACKGROUND There are several reports of atlantoaxial subluxation caused by upper respiratory tract infections. Although, there are many known non-pulmonary complications COVID-19 infection, to date there have been no reported cases of orthopedic complications in the peer-reviewed literature. Diagnosis and management of atlantoaxial subluxation is currently limited. Therefore, it is important to explore other methods of identifying and treating patients suffering from atlantoaxial subluxation. CASE REPORT Our patient was an 86-year-old man with right-sided neck pain and reduced range of neck motion for the past 6 months, shortly after a mild case of COVID-19. Autoimmune and inflammatory workup was unremarkable. Patient's symptoms persisted despite 3 weeks of conservative therapy with analgesics, cervical collar, and physical therapy. He received low-frequency kinetically directed impulse wave (al-Kindi wave) treatment administered by the KKT device after 3-dimensional digital X-ray analysis of the atlas. After receiving the treatment over a period of 13 days, patient showed significant improvement in symptoms and follow-up X-rays. CONCLUSIONS For patient's having neck stiffness or pain with COVID-19, it is important to consider atlantoaxial subluxation as a potential cause, especially if the patient requires intubation, as the technique should be adjusted to reduce spinal injury. Atlas X-ray analysis with Spinalytics provides very precise measurements of the atlas in relation to the skull and cervical spine, and improvement in angles were seen before and after treatment. The al-Kindi wave treatment was also effective in reducing the patient's symptoms and improving cervical X-ray results, but further studies are required for confirmation.