A fracture, or break, in one of the cervical vertebrae is commonly called a broken neck. They are usually the result of trauma, such as car accident or a fall. Athletes are also at risk. Any injury to the vertebrae can have serious consequences such as temporary or permanent paralysis of the entire body from the neck down.
You may experience mild to severe pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulders and/or arms, swelling, bruising and tenderness, decreased feeling in the arms, legs or body or muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs.
In a trauma situation, your neck will be immobilized until x-rays are taken and reviewed by a doctor. The doctor will perform a complete neurological exam, including an MRI or CT Scan, to determine nerve function and the extent of your injuries.
Treatment will depend on which cervical vertebrae are damaged and the kind of fracture. A minor injury can be treated with a cervical brace until the bone heals. An extensive fracture may require traction, surgery, two-to-three months in a rigid cast, or a combination of all three.