Cervical Spine Fractures

The cervical spine contains seven vertebrae that connect the neck to the trunk and shoulders while supporting the head. A fracture in this part of the spine is commonly called a broken neck and typically results from a violent, traumatic collision sustained during car accidents, major falls, and such high-contact sports as football and hockey. In some instances, the vertebrae fracture into small fragments.

Fractures of the cervical spine are extremely serious injuries that require immediate medical attention. They can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis and even prove fatal.

Symptoms

  • Shock
  • Severe neck pain
  • Pain running from the neck to the shoulders and arms
  • Swelling and/or bruising at the back of the neck
  • Temporary or permanent paralysis

Treatment

    For minor fractures:
  • Cervical bracing
    For serious, more complex fractures:
  • Surgery
  • Traction
  • Internal fixation using metal plates, pins, rods, wires, or screws
  • Rigid casting

*Treatment depends on which of the vertebrae have been damaged and the extent of the fracture