Cervical spine fractures are among the most serious injuries sustained in car accidents.
The neck consists of seven cervical vertebrae, and a fracture in any of these vertebrae is known as a cervical spinal fracture. It is often caused by a severe impact or a violent and sudden twist to the neck.
Symptoms of Cervical Spine Fracture
A cervical spinal fracture can cause various complications including paralysis. Symptoms of spinal injury include:
- severe pain
- loss of reflexes
- progressive neurologic deterioration
- low blood pressure
The most common sign of a cervical spinal fracture is severe pain at the site of the injury. The pain may be felt from the neck through the shoulders and arms due to pressure on the nerves. Swelling and bruising at the back of the neck may also occur.
Diagnosing Cervical Spine Fractures
The location and severity of a fracture can be determined by the use of diagnostic imaging techniques including X-rays, CT scan, and MRI. To assess a spinal cord injury, a doctor may order a neurological examination.
Treatment of Cervical Spine Fractures
Treatment for a cervical spine fracture involves immobilization of the neck and head at the time of injury to prevent any further damage. Further treatment depends on the type of fracture and which cervical vertebrae is involved. Collars, tractions, or surgery may be required to stabilize the neck and to relieve nerve and spinal cord pressure. There are various types of surgical procedures available to relieve the painful symptoms of a cervical spine fracture. The procedure may involve removal of the damaged vertebral disc to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. Spinal fusion may also be performed to stabilize the spine. Metal plates, wires, and screws can be used to hold the broken fragments of the cervical spine together. In case of minor fracture, only a collar may be required to stabilize the neck. In almost all cases, physical therapy is required to strengthen the neck muscles and for long-term rehabilitation.
Recovering Damages for Cervical Spine Fractures
A cervical spinal fracture is a serious injury and causes intense pain. It may also cause partial or complete paralysis. A car accident victim suffering from a cervical spine fracture will undergo prolonged treatment and physical therapy. This means facing expensive medical bills and loss of wages in addition to the mental anguish, confusion and frustration of a long recovery.