Posterior ligamentous complex

The posterior ligamentous complex acts to stabilize the vertebral column and prevents injurious flexion, distraction, rotation and translation. It is sometimes referred to as the posterior tension band although the latter also includes the spinous process. 

The posterior ligamentous complex comprises the following structures:

In particular, it acts to hold the facet joints of the neighboring vertebrae in fixed relation with each other.

Related pathology

Injury of the posterior ligamentous complex can result in subluxation or dislocation of the facet:

Lesions involving the posterior ligamentous complex have a tendency not to heal and can chronically promote progressive kyphosis and collapse and thus usually require surgery 3. The importance of the posterior ligamentous complex/posterior tension band is highlighted in the most commonly used spinal fracture classifications systems: AO classification of subaxial injuriesAO classification of thoracolumbar injuries and the thoracolumbar injury classification and severity score (TLICS).

Anatomy: Spine

Article information

rID: 10129
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Posterior tension bands
  • Posterior ligamentous complexes (spine)
  • Posterior tension band

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: ligaments of the lumbar spine (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.