What is a Cervical fracture (Neck Fracture)?
A cervical fracture in Iran also called Neck Fracture is a break in 1 or more of the 7 cervical vertebrae (bones) in your neck. The 7 cervical vertebrae are called C1 through C7. Cervical vertebrae support your head and allow your neck to bend and twist. The vertebrae enclose and protect the spinal cord, which controls your ability to move, support the neck and allow for movement.
The seven bones in the neck are the cervical vertebrae. They support the head and connect it to the shoulders and body. A fracture, or break, in one of the cervical vertebrae is commonly called a broken neck.
A neck fracture is caused by severe trauma to the neck, which is strong enough to break the vertebra. Trauma may be caused by:
. Car, motorcycle or pedestrian collisions
. Diving into shallow water
. Severe and sudden twist to the neck
. Severe blows to the head or neck area
. Injuries from contact sports
. Skateboarding injuries
Factors that increase your risk of neck fracture include:
. Falls from heights, such as a ladder, bike or horse
. Advancing age
. Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles, or post-menopause.
. Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
. Decreased muscle mass
. Playing certain sports that may result in neck fracture, such as football, rugby or ice hockey.
. Not wearing your seatbelt or protective sports equipment
. Head or other traumatic injury, such as severe chest trauma, pelvic or femur fractures.
A neck fracture is very serious and can lead to paralysis or possibly death. A person with a neck injury should not be moved without competent medical care, which is needed immediately.
. Pain, tenderness, swelling, or muscle spasms in your neck
. Problems moving your neck
. Trouble swallowing
. Loss of feeling or pinprick pain in your arms or legs
. Numbness, pain, or tingling at the base of your head
. Double vision or loss of consciousness
. Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs
. Odontoid fracture: The odontoid is a part of your C2 vertebrae, also called the axis. When the odontoid breaks, you cannot turn and twist your neck freely. Odontoid fractures are common in children.
. Hangman's fracture: A hangman's fracture is another type of break in the axis.
. Jefferson fracture: A Jefferson fracture is 3 or 4 breaks in your C1 vertebrae, also called the atlas. Bones in the axis may also be broken.
. Teardrop fracture: Teardrop fractures are large, triangle-shaped breaks in 1 or more of the lower cervical vertebrae. They can also affect nearby ligaments and discs.
Your healthcare provider will ask how your injury occurred. He will ask about your signs and symptoms and feel for painful areas on your neck. Your healthcare provider will check for problems with your muscles, reflexes, and sense of touch. You may need the following tests:
C-spine x-ray: This is a picture of your cervical spine. Healthcare providers will look for broken bones or other neck problems.
A CT, or CAT scan, takes pictures of your skull and brain. You may be given contrast liquid before the scan. Tell a healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your neck. The pictures will show if you have pressure on or damage to your spinal cord. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood. Remove all jewelry, and tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.
. Pain medicine: Healthcare providers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell healthcare providers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling for help when you want to get out of bed.
. Traction: Traction uses weights to pull your bones back into place and to straighten the cervical spine.
. Immobilization: This is a method used to keep your head and neck from moving as your cervical fracture heals. Immobilization will limit your movement for months as your injury heals. You may need the following:
. Halo brace: A halo brace and vest prevent most head and neck movements. The halo brace is attached to your head with pins placed in your skull. It cannot be removed during treatment. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about halo brace placement and care.
. Semirigid collar: Semirigid collars use plastic plates to stop side-to-side or up-and-down motion in your neck.
. Soft collar: A soft collar is a flexible brace placed around the neck. It is often used after a more rigid collar has been worn.
. Surgery: You may need surgery to repair your cervical fracture. You may also have surgery after immobilization if your fracture has not healed. During surgery, healthcare providers repair your fracture through an incision in the front or back of your neck. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about surgeries to treat a cervical fracture.
. Therapy: A physical therapist and an occupational therapist may exercise your arms, legs, and hands. They may also teach you new ways to do things around the house. A speech therapist may work with you to help you talk or swallow.
People with neck fractures usually need to stay in the hospital. Serious injuries may need to be watched in an intensive care unit. Some people with neck fractures need to have help breathing. A tube is inserted and mechanical ventilation is used to protect and assist breathing.
You may need the following:
. Pain medication
. Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible
Healing time varies by age and your overall health. Children and people in better overall health heal faster. In general, it may take several weeks to several months for a neck fracture to heal.
As you recover, you may be referred to physical therapy to keep your muscles strong. Do not return to activities or sports until your doctor gives you permission to do so.
It is possible that you may have permanent damage or paralysis even if your neck heals. If this is the case, you will need long-term rehabilitation.
A neck fracture can sometimes result in spinal cord and nerve injury and paralysis. This may require major life changes, involving work, family, and social life. Extensive rehabilitation may be required, including occupational therapy, psychotherapy or support groups.
If you have a neck fracture, follow your doctor's instructions.
Preventing Neck Fractures
To help reduce your chance of getting a neck fracture, take these steps:
. Avoid situations that put you at risk of physical harm.
. Always wear a seatbelt when driving in a car.
. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
. Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
. Use proper tackling techniques in football. Do not spear with your 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.
. Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong muscles and bones.
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:
. Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
. Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs and clutter.
. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
. Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
. Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
. Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs and halls.
. Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.