(Broken Neck; Cervical Fracture)
|Cervical Spine Fractures|
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- Falls, such as from a horse or bike
- Collisions, such as motorcycle or automobile
- Diving into shallow water
- Severe and sudden twist to the neck
- Severe blows to the head or neck area
- Pain, which may or may not be severe
- Swelling and bruising
- Decreased feeling in the arms or legs
- Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs
- X-rays—tests that use radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones. It is used to look for a break in the bone or a dislocation of the vertebra.
- MRI scan—a test that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to make pictures of structures inside the neck and back. An MRI provides cross-sectional images that allow the doctor to see if there is damage to the spinal cord.
- CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses computers to make pictures of structures inside the neck and back. It can be used to analyze bone injury and to see if the spinal cord is compressed by a collection of blood.
- The severity of the fracture
- If there is an associated dislocation or instability
- Which cervical bones are broken
- Whether there is spinal cord or nerve injury, with muscle weakness or paralysis
Brace or Collar
Living with Paralysis
- Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the cervical bones.
- Always wear a seatbelt when driving in a car.
- Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
- Use proper tackling techniques in football. Do not spear with the helmet.
- Never dive in the shallow end of a pool.
- Never dive into water where you do not know the depth or what obstacles may be present.
- Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
- Build strong muscles to prevent falls and to stay active and agile.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.aaos.org
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation http://www.aapmr.org
Physical Therapy Canada http://www.physicaltherapy.ca
Department of Orthopaedics University of British Columbia http://www.orthosurgery.ubc.ca
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org/. Accessed October 13, 2005.
Bailes JE, Petschauer M, et al. J Athl Train. 2007;42:126-134.
Duane TM, Wilson SP, et al. Canadian cervical spine rule compared with computed tomography: a prospective analysis. J Trauma. 2011;71(2):352-357.
Looby S, Flanders A. Spine trauma. Radiol Clin North Am. 2011;49(1):129-163.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/. Accessed October 13, 2005.
Rathlev NK, Medzon R, et al. Evaluation and management of neck trauma. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2007; 25:679-694.
Yanar H. Pedestrians injured by automobiles: risk factors for cervical spine injuries. J Am Coll Surg. 2007;205:794-799.
- Reviewer: John C. Keel, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -