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Alar ligament

Ligament: Alar ligament
Membrana tectoria, transverse, and alar ligaments. (Alar ligament labeled at center right.)
Latin ligamenta alaria
Gray's subject #74 296
Dorlands/Elsevier l_09/12491573

The alar ligaments connect the sides of the dens (on the axis, or the second cervical vertebra) to tubercles on the medial side of the occipital condyle.

They are short, tough, fibrous cords that attach the skull to C1 vertebra and function to check side-to-side movements of the head when it is turned.

The alar ligament is also known as the "check ligament of the odontoid."

Injury of the alar ligaments

Injuries such as rupture and overstretching of the alar ligaments is often caused through whiplash during car accidents. If a patient describes prolonged symptoms after a traumatical situation, medical workers should think about ligamental damages.

Symptoms during damaged alar ligaments can be

  • vertigo
  • dizziness
  • reduced vigilance, such as somnolence or precomatose states
  • seeing problems, such as "seeing stars" or tunnel view. Many patients tell about unreal views that stands in correlation with:
  • depersonalization

Most medical professionals don't know about the rare disease complex of head-neck-joint instabilities that is mainly caused by damaged alar ligaments and/or torn vertebral ligamental capsule apparatus structures. Very often the patients have many medical consultations without any clear diagnosis and are then sent to a psychiatrist because doctors think about depression or hypochondria of the suffering patients, but mainly that is not the real cause.


  • "Ligament, alar." Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 27th ed. (2000). ISBN 0-683-40007-X
  • Moore, Keith L., and Arthur F. Dalley. Clinically Oriented Anatomy, 4th ed. (1999). ISBN 0-683-06141-0
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Alar_ligament". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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