Fracture of the cervical vertebrae (neck): symptoms, treatment, consequences, prevention

Symptoms, treatment and consequences of fracture of the cervical vertebrae

In order to understand the exact location and topography of the neck, imagine a few lines.

The top edge of the neck located on an imaginary line, which runs along the lower edge of the mandible and the external occipital protuberance. The lower edge of the neck passes through the upper part of the clavicle and the line which connects the acromion with the spine of the 7th cervical vertebra.

Most often, the neck has a cylindrical shape, but as a result of intensive exercise and play sports regularly either due to shortage of food and disease form is subject to change.

The cervical spine has a large network of blood vessels and nerves.

Remember, as a doctor or a rescuer checks for the presence of cardiac activity, probing the neck – he’s looking for the artery, the characteristic rhythmic contractions which to judge the work of the heart and blood flow.

Through the neck are two «supply» of the body – the esophagus and the trachea, which provide the human body with food and air.

The base of the neck – seven vertebrae of the cervical spine. Thanks to the cervical vertebrae, this part of the body is very movable.

Any neck injury is very dangerous!

A broken neck is a serious injury. It’s caused by a loss of integrity of one or more of the seven cervical vertebrae of the spine.

Most often fracture of the cervical vertebrae is called a sharp blow or compression of this part of the body.

Doctors there are several types of fractures of the cervical vertebrae, depending on localization.

There are names for each of the fractures:

  • 1 fracture of a vertebra, called the Atlas, is called a Jefferson fracture;
  • fractured 2 cervical vertebrae called epistrophy called «hangman’s injury»;
  • trauma in the region of 3-5 vertebrae – injured diver;
  • fracture of the last two vertebrae of the cervical – trauma digger.

Depending on the complexity of the fracture, effects caused by the fracture, timing of rehabilitation distinguish between complicated and uncomplicated fractures.

Damage to the upper vertebrae of the cervical spine from the impact occur due to the lack of cartilage pads, which would play the role of shock absorber. The bones of the skull, breaking bone and destroying it.

There are three degrees of fracture of the second cervical vertebra:

  • the first (soft);
  • the second (possible loss of consciousness, disturbance of sensation);
  • the third (usually causes death).

Fractures of the lower vertebrae, caused by sharp bending, most often compression. To imagine what it is you need to imagine the action of the press. The applied force compresses the vertebrae, they are heavily compressed and destroyed (break, crack).

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The so-called «trauma diver» is very dangerous and often require surgical intervention for successful treatment outcome.

The cause of trauma is commonplace

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As mentioned above, a fracture of the neck occurs from a strong blow or compression of pressure on her. Such processes are likely to occur:

  1. At the time of the accident, the driver and passengers of the vehicle carry a very large overloads caused by momentary reduction in speed to almost 0 km/h Even secured by seat belts the body is not protected from neck injury, which in this case is caused by tilting the head forward or backward (depending on the direction of the applied force). In such cases, the fracture is often combined with whiplash neck injury.
  2. When you drop and when you drop heavy objects on the head or neck of a large mass, combined with the speed becomes deadly. Occipital bone pressed to bone and breaks its arc. This is called a burst fracture.
  3. The bathers, diving in unfamiliar places, there is a risk of fracture of the lower cervical vertebrae. If the depth at the point of diving is not enough large, a person’s head hits the bottom. The neck is strongly curved. A sharp forced flexion causes compression fracture of the cervical vertebrae.

The nature of the clinical picture

Traditional symptoms for all fractures of the neck is pain in the injured area of the body.

The neck is more sensitive part of the body. In addition, it hides the vital highway of blood vessels, nerves, the respiratory tract. So the pain in the neck is to listen carefully.

At the turn of the Atlanta severe pain apply not only to the neck, but the neck and head.

At fracture of the second vertebra unpleasant sensations begin when you try to turn your head to the side. May appear neurological disorders – numbness or paralysis.

Trauma of the third vertebra are pain and limitation of head movements.

Almost always the companion of a fracture is damage to the muscles. Muscles may be swollen, to be in tension. In trauma the skin can change its color. There is the possibility of difficulty breathing, disorders of heartbeat, the appearance of headaches and dizziness.

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At fracture of the vertebrae of the cervical movements of the head cause severe discomfort.

If a person has a sore neck, but to move it beyond his power, maybe he didn’t break anything, but be examined the doctor still stands.


To diagnose a fracture can be interviewed and examined the patient. And then confirm assumptions by radiography.

Against the dark background of the picture visible light areas through which were not gamma rays. This is the fabric of the vertebrae.

Experienced doctor determines first sight the deformity and abnormal location of a fragment or section.

At the turn of Atlanta – the first vertebra, apply a special method of producing the image. Do an x-ray through the mouth. Also use the possibility of magnetic resonance imaging.

First aid — a step to success

Treatment always begins with the first assistance to the victim.

You should assess its condition and environment in which the injury, to suggest the possibility of a neck injury.

Gently place the victim on a flat, level surface and fix the damaged part of the body, to protect her from unnecessary movements that may aggravate the condition of the injured.

After fixing of dressing or splint to call the doctor or ambulance.

To touch the head, to turn, to pull it is strictly prohibited.

Therapy in the hospital

After the diagnosis in the hospital to begin treatment.

Injuries to the neck require a thorough and careful approach to their treatment, as the consequences of any fracture of the cervical vertebra can be very sad. The recovery period is lengthy.

The main method of treatment is immobilization, rest the injured part. On the neck impose a special collar Trench or bandage that keeps it constantly in a real situation.

Wear this collar for two or three months. In the case of a severe fracture to prevent spinal cord injury patient include special loops Gleason and stretch the neck with subsequent fixation collar.

In fractures with displacement of fragments or in compression fractures performed surgery. The doctor collects the shattered vertebra, puts him in his place and locks. Operation under General anesthesia.


It so happens that the injury is serious and the shards hurt the spinal cord. In such cases, possible numbness and paralysis of the limbs. To recover from this type of fractures, resorting to the help of doctors therapists.

Long physical therapy sessions, charging and exercises for months can put on the feet of the victim.

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Also used by therapeutic massage. But the positive outcome is not always guaranteed.

Complications and disability

In addition to the destruction of bone tissue of a vertebra fracture of the neck is fraught with consequences:

  • paralysis of the body;
  • respiratory failure;
  • heart failure;
  • damage to the spinal cord.

Paralysis refers to critical complications, but unfortunately, it is quite often the consequence after of a broken neck.

Paralysis significantly affects social and public relations of the patient, breaks the usual mode.

With proper care in the early stages of such an outcome is unlikely, but possible. Only the support of family and creating a comfortable environment will help the victim to despair.

Spinal cord injury is a very dangerous injury. Loss of sensation can result in new injuries, which the patient will not feel the cuts, burns etc., Should regularly inspect yourself and your body for any such damage.

In special cases, after carrying out mediko-social research of a person with a neck injury unable to recognize an invalid. Mostly this condition is caused by disorders of the static-dynamic (movement) function.

Constant pain in neck radiating to the upper extremity, weakness, restrictions in the movement of the neck – the main clinical manifestations of violations, based on which you can qualify for a disability group.

Preventive measures

To help prevent neck injuries can be regular exercise and exercise. Popular gymnastics Bubnovsky for the neck.

Regular training will strengthen the muscles of the body. Muscles, in turn, will hold in the natural position of the limbs and head, even in case of accident, shock, falling.

In addition to exercise may be advisable to adjust diet, full of nutrients, vitamins and macro — and micronutrients. And, third, injury prevention includes careful care of their body.

If you do not put yourself in danger, to be careful and considered, the risk of injury to become minimal. And in conjunction with the above methods to become zero.