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Cervical Fracture

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 your body.

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 his extremities.

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.

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