Neck Fracture

(Broken Neck; Cervical Fracture)

Definition

A neck fracture is a break in one or more of the 7 cervical bones. The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. The cervical vertebrae in the neck are labeled C1-C7. They protect the spinal cord, support the neck, and allow for movement.
C1-C7 Fracture Sites
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Causes

A neck fracture is caused by severe trauma to the neck, which is strong enough to break the vertebrae. Trauma may be caused by:
  • Falls
  • Car, motorcycle, or pedestrian collisions
  • Diving into shallow water
  • Severe and sudden twist to the neck
  • Severe blows to the head or neck area

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of neck fracture include:
  • Falls from heights, such as a ladder, bike, or horse
  • Advanced age
  • Osteoporosis
  • 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
  • Violence

Symptoms

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 right away.Neck fracture may cause:
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling and possible bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased feeling in the arms or legs
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs

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