At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, our physicians have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat serious, complex spine and neck conditions.
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.
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:
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.
In a trauma situation, the neck should be immobilized until X-ray exam is competed 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 conditions. 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 X-Ray, MRI or computed tomography (CT), to determine the extent of the injuries.
“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 5,900 successful surgeries related to the spine and neck.” Shyam Kishan, MD
Treatment will depend on which of the seven cervical vertebrae are damaged and the kind of fracture that was 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.
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:
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