Also known as a broken neck, cervical fracture refers to a break in one
or more of the seven bones, or vertebrae, comprising your neck. The cervical
vertebrae encase the spinal cord and connect your head to the rest of
Causes of Cervical Fractures
Cervical fractures are usually the result of severe injury or trauma. Car
crashes, diving headfirst into shallow water, and athletic injuries are
just some examples of how cervical fractures occur. Because the cervical
vertebrae encase the delicate spinal cord-that intricate network of nerves
that serves as the command center for feeling and movement throughout
your body-injury to the neck can be particularly serious. Damage to the
spinal cord can result in long-term paralysis and death, depending on
the severity of the injury.
Cervical Fracture Symptoms
Patients suffering from a cervical fracture will usually experience pain
at the site of the injury and sometimes down into the shoulders and arms.
There may be some bruising and swelling at the back of the neck. Depending
on the severity of the injury, the patient may or may not be able to move
Treatment for Cervical Fractures
Treatment will depend on the location and kind of fracture sustained. A
minor compression fracture can be treated with a cervical brace worn for
six to eight weeks until the bone heals. A more complex or extensive fracture
may require traction, surgery and internal fixation, two to three months
in a rigid cast, or a combination of these treatments.