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Neck

At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, our physicians have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat serious, complex spinal and neck issues.

The seven bones in the neck make up the cervical vertebrae. They support the head and connect it to the shoulders and body. A fracture, or break, in one of the cervical vertebrae must be examined by a pediatric orthopedic physician who understands how to best treat a growing child with this condition.

Neck Breaks and Fractures

Cervical fractures usually result from high-energy trauma, such as automobile crashes or falls. Athletes are also at risk. A cervical fracture can occur if:

  • A football player butts an opponent with his head.
  • An ice hockey player is struck from behind and rams into the boards.
  • A gymnast misses the high bar during a release move and falls.
  • A diver strikes the bottom of a shallow pool.

Any injury to the vertebrae can have serious consequences because the spinal cord, the central nervous system’s connection between the brain and the body, runs through the center of the vertebrae. Damage to the spinal cord can result in serious injury. Injury to the spinal cord at the level of the cervical spine can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of the entire body from the neck down.

Emergency Response

In a trauma situation, the neck should be immobilized until x-rays are taken and reviewed by a physician. Emergency medical personnel will assume that an unconscious individual has a neck injury and respond accordingly. The victim may experience shock and either temporary or permanent paralysis. At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, our physicians have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat serious, complex spinal issues.

Conscious patients with an acute neck injury may or may not have severe neck pain. They may also have pain spreading from the neck to the shoulders or arms, resulting from the vertebra compressing a nerve. There may be some bruising and swelling at the back of the neck. Our pediatric orthopedic spine specialists will perform a complete neurological examination to assess nerve function and may request additional radiographic studies, such as MRI or computed tomography (CT), to determine the extent of the injuries. Our EOS machine is low radiation and is safe to use.

“Quality of care is important in the treatment of spine and neck injuries. Across the board, our surgical infection rates are low and our patient satisfaction scores are high. We’ve performed more than 4,500 successful surgeries related to the spine and neck.”

Shyam Kishan, MD

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Treatment And Prevention

Treatment will depend on which of the seven cervical vertebrae are damaged and the kind of fracture sustained. A minor compression fracture can be treated with a cervical brace worn for 6 to 8 weeks until the bone heals. A more complex or extensive fracture may require traction, surgery, 2 to 3 months in a rigid cast, or a combination of these treatments.

Prevention

Improvements in athletic equipment and rule changes have reduced the number of sports-related cervical fractures over the past 20 years. You can help protect yourself and your family if you:

  • Always wear a seat belt when you are driving or a passenger in a car.
  • Never dive in a shallow pool area, and be sure that young people are properly supervised when swimming and diving.
  • Wear the proper protective equipment for your sport and follow all safety regulations, such as having a spotter and appropriate cushioning mats.
The physicians at Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists have experience and expertise in the treatment of compex spine and neck issues. Our board-certified physicians specialize in the treatment of children and adolescents and can give your child the care and attention they deserve.

Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.

Comprehensive services for children from birth through adolescence at three convenient locations: Dallas, Frisco and McKinney.