A wide range of cervical spine injury patterns are related to sports activities. The clinical presentation of the injuries, a pertinent focused physical examination, and proper on-field management are paramount in the successful treatment of an injured athlete. Preexisting conditions (both acquired and congenital) affecting the spine must be determined. All these factors contribute to the challenges faced by health-care professionals in making accurate diagnoses, developing treatment plans, and deciding whether and when the athletes can return to play. A thorough understanding of the injury patterns assists in early recognition and subsequent management. In addition, clinical guidelines are available to assist health-care professionals in stratifying athletes into risk categories and subsequently decide when it is safe to allow them to return to play. Most important to the successful management of the injured athletes is their on-field management. © 2010.
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