A cervical fracture is when there is a fracture or "break" in the bone of the neck. This typically is a result of a traumatic incident such as a fall, a car accident, or some of force applied to the neck. Certain conditions can lead to a weakening of the bone which may predispose some patients to a fractured bone such as osteoporosis, a tumor, infection, or some other underlying systemic condition.
The primary symptoms of a broken neck bone typically include neck pain. This can be associated with neurological symptoms or weakness if the nerves are compromised. Severe caution should be maintained as there may be other injuries to the spine or other parts of the body along with a neck fracture.
A cervical fracture is typically the result of an accident or trauma and carefully trained medical personnel should be called to immobilize and protect the neck from further injury. A high index of suspicion should be maintained until the neck is proven to be okay by trained medical personnel, often in the emergency room setting. Radiographs, a CT scan, and even an MRI may be necessary to properly evaluate and confirm the diagnosis of a cervical fracture.
The treatment of any specific cervical fracture will depend on the nature and severity of the injury. If it is minor and non-displaced fracture, a brace or some type of immobilization may be used until it is properly healed. If the fracture is severe or the spine is unstable, typically some type of surgery is required to restore alignment, stabilize the spine, and restore function to the neck and spinal cord.