Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Neck Fracture Overview

What is a neck fracture?
A person with a neck fracture has broken one of the vertebrae in the neck. The most common causes of neck fractures include sports injuries and falls. Neck fractures are the most common cause of spinal cord injury. About 5,000 neck fractures cause quadriplegia every year in the US.

What are the symptoms of a neck fracture?
Symptoms of a neck fracture include neck pain, neck tenderness near the spine, neck swelling, neck muscle spasm, and neck stiffness. Symptoms of a serious neck fracture include arm weakness, leg weakness, arm numbness, leg numbness, loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control, and an inability to walk.

How does the doctor treat a neck fracture?
Treatment for a neck fracture may include a cervical collar, narcotic pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and muscle relaxants. Neck fractures that result in an injury to the spinal cord may require treatment with corticosteroids and surgery.

Continue to Neck Fracture Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Neck Fracture References
  1. Blackmore CC, Emerson SS, Mann FA, Koepsell TD. Cervical spine imaging in patients with trauma: determination of fracture risk to optimize use. Radiology. 1999 Jun;211(3):759-65. [10352603]
  2. Croft AC, Herring P, Freeman MD, Haneline MT. The neck injury criterion: future considerations. Accid Anal Prev. 2002 Mar;34(2):247-55. [11829295]
  3. Hoffman JR, Wolfson AB, Todd K, Mower WR. Selective cervical spine radiography in blunt trauma: methodology of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS). Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Oct;32(4):461-9. [9774931]
  4. Joslin CC, Khan SN, Bannister GC. Long-term disability after neck injury. a comparative study. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2004 Sep;86(7):1032-4. [15446533]
  5. Kerr D, Bradshaw L, Kelly AM. Implementation of the Canadian C-spine rule reduces cervical spine x-ray rate for alert patients with potential neck injury. J Emerg Med. 2005 Feb;28(2):127-31. [15707805]
  6. McIntosh AS, McCrory P. Preventing head and neck injury. Br J Sports Med. 2005 Jun;39(6):314-8. Review. [15911597]
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