Cervical fracture refers to the breakage of any one or more of the seven vertebrae in the upper back. These vertebrae connect the neck, head and back to the rest of the body as well as play a major role in maintaining balance. It is also referred to as the broken neck. Cervical fracture is a serious injury and may lead to paralysis, death as well as loss of movement or sensation in any part of the body.


  • An automobile accident
  • Sudden fall
  • Direct blow or trauma to the head or neck
  • Sports injury that involves a violent attack or combat
  • Twisting of the neck
  • Diving in a shallow pool
  • Symptoms
  • Immobility
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pain that may spread from the neck to the upper body and arms
  • Deformity, bruising and swelling
  • Feeling of numbness in the arms, legs, body
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Visibility of lumps on the head or back
  • Breathing may be hampered in some cases
  • Muscle spasms Difficulty swallowing
  • Pins and needles sensation


  • Neurological examination
  • CT scan, X-rays, MRI may be conducted to assess the location and severity of damage
  • Assessment of the functionality of the cervical spine by the orthopedic doctor
  • Evaluation of the details of injury, medical record and symptoms experienced by the patient


  • Use of a cervical brace or collar for a few weeks may be prescribed in case the fracture is minor
  • Traction– use of heavy weights attached to a brace may be used to limits the movement of the spine. It may be prescribed for 8-12 weeks depending on the severity of the injury Surgical decompression to remove the broken fragments of tissues and bones from the spinal column
  • Surgical removal of the damaged intervertebral discs
  • Surgical fusion of a bone graft next to the broken vertebrae
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs may be administered to curb pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy may be required to restore mobility and muscle strength in the cervical spine

For treatment of cervical fracture and other spine conditions, visit OrthoTexas.