Neck Fracture Treatment | Neck Bone Fracture Surgery | Fractured Neck Healing Time, Recovery, Symptoms, Types and Causes
The bones that are in the neck are called the cervical bones or the vertebrae. If any of these cervical bones break, the result is a neck fracture. The cervical bones that line up in our neck are also the bones that make up our spine and we know that the spine is a critical bone in our body because this is where the spinal column is encased. When the spinal column is damaged, this can mean paralysis or even death.
Neck fractures are one of the most critical bone fractures that can happen to our bones so when a person is suspected to have a neck injury after suffering an accident, you must not move him or her because this might lead to spinal cord damage. This is why it is necessary that you must understand the possibility of getting a neck fracture from your daily activities. Usually when there is an injury to the head or sudden impact of the body such as a car crash, neck may be fractured.
Types of Neck Fractures
There are broader types of neck fractures that are under different conditions and these are the following:
• Neck conditions. This can be the result of neck cancer, a paralysis to the vocal cord, or osteoarthritis. If a person has any of these conditions, the muscles in his neck, spinal cord, and even the organs surrounding it can also be at risk.
• Neck injury. Accidents are the usual cause of this type of injury and this can affect the person’s ability to move, walk or stand normally especially if it is the spinal cord that is under stressed.
• Skeletal or bone conditions. Bone diseases or bone disorders can contribute to the neck condition so if the bone in the body including the neck bones are weakened, even the body’s internal organs are also at stake.
• Musculoskeletal conditions. These are medical conditions that can affect the muscles, the bones and the whole structures of the body.
• Spine conditions. This is a condition that affects the whole spinal column so it can also affect the neck vertebrae that protects the spinal cord in the neck area.
Various types are femur, extracapsular, intracapsular, subcapital, femoral neck, radial, metacarpal, humeral, talar, condylar neck fracture.
Your doctor will be asking for any symptoms you feel in your neck so that he can identify a possible fractured neck. He will also inquire about your physical activity and how the injury has happened and then will go to the next procedures. Number one on the list would be the X-rays. He will subject your neck area to radiation so that he can take a picture of the bony structures inside your neck. The second option would be to subject you to an MRI scan. This is the use of radio waves and powerful magnetic field so that the machine can produce pictures even inside the neck and around the vertebrae. The spinal cord can also be seen on this procedure. The last option is the CT scan. This is also a type of X-ray but more advanced because it uses computers to produce pictures on the whole structure of your neck. It can analyze quickly if there is bone injury and can show the condition of the spinal cord.
The most common causes of fractured neck are severe trauma to the neck, which can be the result by the following:
• Vehicle collisions such as car or motorcycle crash
• Falls from a motorcycle, bicycle or from a horse
• Head collision on a hard surface such as diving on a shallow water
• Sudden and severe twisting of the neck
• Powerful blows to the neck area or to the head
Neck Fracture Symptoms
Signs and manifestations of neck fractures include:
• Pain in the neck that may be severe or not so severe
• Swelling followed by bruising on the neck area
• Tenderness especially on the sides and back of the neck
• Reduction of sensation or feelings of the arms or the legs
• Weakening of the muscles, numbness or paralysis to the lower extremities
Neck Fractures Treatment
The vertebrae in the neck become very fragile once one or two disks are fractured so the treatment and healing time will depend on the following conditions:
• The bone condition of the fracture
• If there is a dislocation or instability of the vertebra
• Which among the cervical bones is fractured
• If there a spinal cord damage or an injury to the nerve that is represented by weakening of the muscles or paralysis
Now, when any of these conditions is verified, treatment may include the following:
• Immobilization. The patient has the possibility of having a broken neck so the padding needs to be fitted on patient’s neck until the neck condition normalizes.
• Brace or Collar. There can be a less serious neck injury and the doctor would require you to wear a neck brace. You have to wear the brace for 8 to 12 weeks and a pain reliever will be prescribed.
• Neck Fracture Surgery. This can be the best option for those who have severe neck fracture to realign the small bones that make up the vertebrae. Metal plate or screws or other methods used for neck fixation will hold the bones in proper position and then the use of brace will be recommended during recovery.
• Neck exercises. This will be recommended when you are ready to remove your brace. You can start doing range-of-motion and neck strengthening exercises. The Physical therapist will take care of your muscle and bone strengthening activities.
There is no better way of preventing neck fractures than not putting yourself at risk of accidents and trauma that can damage your cervical bones. Neck fractures are common during car accidents where people do not wear their seat belts. When playing sports that require the use of your upper body and head, wear proper padding or safety gears. Also have a diet program that is rich with vitamin D and calcium to make your bones stronger.
When To Call a Doctor
Once you see that a person has suffered from a serious accident or fall, call medical assistance immediately because neck injuries, unlike arm or leg fractures, do not easily manifest symptoms. Try not to move the person’s head because if there is already a neck fracture, his spinal cord can be damaged. If your area is unreachable by the ambulance, you can move the person slowly using a stretcher but support his head with two soft pillows on both sides or improvise a neck brace and bring the person to the nearest hospital quickly.