A Broken Neck
- Posted on: Mar 15 2018
When you read that title, you’re likely to have assumed a “broken neck” means the person has suffered a catastrophic injury and will be paralyzed. Of course, this can be true, but a broken neck can actually span the spectrum of severity from mild to fatal.
At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we deal with all kinds of neck pain. Some of it is the result of a broken neck.
What Is a Broken Neck?
The actual definition of a “broken neck” is the fracture of one or more of the seven vertebrae that make up the cervical spine, the neck. Myriad things can cause these fractures: trauma, car accidents, falls, sports injuries, or osteoporosis.
This is the cause most people associate with broken necks — trauma. Whether a serious car wreck, a fall on a mountain bike, or a football collision, complex neck fractures require immediate medical attention. It’s important to not move the person, as this can make the injuries worse and increase the chances of paralysis. The person should be immobilized until they can receive medical attention.
If you have osteoporosis, where your bones lose mass and density, you have a far greater risk for minor neck fractures. These types of broken necks are directly related to the amount of bone loss the patient has suffered. Almost any type of movement can cause these breaks, which are tiny and are also known as microfractures.
Preventing Neck Fractures
For people suffering from osteoporosis, lifestyle changes can help prevent further fractures. Adopting a regimen of weight-bearing exercise is important. So is the daily intake of calcium and vitamin D. Bone-building medication may be possible.
As for trauma, obviously avoiding contact sports such as tackle football would be helpful. But if you’re a player and seek to continue to play, you must think of the position of your neck and head when you tackle. Not leading with the crown of your helmet is the most important preventive action you can make. Otherwise, wearing seatbelts or other safety measures such as wearing bike helmets all fall under the old “an ounce of prevention” adage.
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Posted in: Neck Pain