The neck is made up of seven tiny bones called cervical vertebrae (C1-C7). These are protected by spongy vertebral discs present between them and supported by ligaments that hold them together and surround the underlying spinal cord. Cervical fractures are common in motor vehicle accidents, sports activities and falls. The second, sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae are frequently involved in fractures, and may also injure the spinal cord.
Fractures of the cervical spine may result in pain, localized to the neck region or spreading from the neck to the shoulders or arms, decreased neck movement due to pain, swelling, bruising, tingling or pricking sensation, numbness and weakness or paralysis. Cervical fractures in the first and second vertebrae are usually fatal. Injury to the spinal cord can lead to paralysis.
If a cervical fracture is suspected, the neck should be immediately immobilized in a collar and backboard. Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, and order neurological tests to assess pain and neurological deficits and imaging tests to identify the location and pattern of the cervical fracture.
If the cervical spine is out of alignment, traction is applied to realign the spine. Steroids may be administered to control spinal cord damage and inflammation. Surgery may be suggested to repair the cervical fracture with spinal reconstruction by placement of bone graft followed by stabilization with plates.
Fracture of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine
The backbone is made of small bones arranged from the neck region down to the buttocks, one above the other. The region at the chest and lower back are called the thoracic and lumbar spine, respectively. These are the two regions commonly affected by a fracture and frequently occur due to high-velocity accidents, falls from a height or a violent blow. They may also occur in cases of osteoporosis or a tumor where the bone is weakened.
A thoracic or lumbar fracture is associated with moderate to severe back pain. Fractures of the vertebral column may be associated with injury to the underlying spinal cord, causing pain, tingling sensation, numbness, weakness, and bowel and bladder dysfunction.
Injury to the thoracic and lumbar spine may be assessed by a physical examination, neurological tests, and imaging studies that help identify the nature and extent of the fracture.
Thoracic and lumbar spine fractures are usually treated with bracing for 6 to 12 weeks with a gradual increase in activity. Surgery is performed in cases of displacement of fractures, and significant injury to the adjoining ligaments, intervertebral discs or nerves. Your doctor makes an incision in your front, side or back, realigns your bones with screws, rods or cages, and releases the compressed spinal cord or nerves. This is followed by stabilization of the fracture. Surgery is followed by rehabilitation to alleviate pain and regain mobility.
- Cervical Disc Herniation
- Cervical Myelopathy
- Cervical Stenosis
- Chronic Neck Pain
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Degenerative Scoliosis
- Herniated Disc
- Lumbar Disc Herniation
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
- Lumbar Stenosis
- Neck Fracture
- Spina Bifida
- Spinal Deformity
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Tumors