A broken neck is described as a fracture in one or more of the 7 vertebrae that comprises the neck. Many believe that a broken neck is a devastating injury that can result to paralysis. Even though this is true in several cases, the severity of the injury can actually range from mild to deadly.
Cases of broken neck are triggered by trauma, falls, vehicular accidents and sports injuries. Oftentimes, the location and nature of the break can be determined by the position of the head at the time of impact as well as the direction of force that strikes the neck.
Broken neck due to trauma
Serious accidents or other form of trauma can result to a complex neck fracture that entails immediate medical care to avoid further injury or death. An individual with a broken neck requires immobilization and call for emergency assistance as soon as possible.
In case a fracture is suspected, do not move the individual in any manner since this puts the individual at risk for paralysis. On the other hand, if the individual is in a dangerous place, he/she must be moved. Due to this, you have to assume that any victim of trauma sustained a serious neck.
Broken neck linked to osteoporosis
Among the elderly, especially those who have osteoporosis, they face a higher risk for a broken neck. It is important to note that a spinal fracture is directly connected to the degree of bone loss in an individual. Since osteoporotic bone is fragile, common activities and minor impacts can lead to tiny breaks known as micro-fractures.
In case the individual sustained a fall, he/she should have his/her neck properly assessed even if he/she is not experiencing any pain.
Management of a broken neck
The treatment option of spinal fractures includes the use of a brace known as a Halo device. This is comprised of a vest connected to a metal ring that is used around the head and secured in place by screws that are inserted into the skull. This device helps stabilize the bone and allow it to mend.
In complex cases of neck fractures, they require major surgery and can result to full or partial paralysis. In case surgery is required, the doctor will insert screws or plates into the bones.
How to prevent a broken neck
Remember that lifestyle factors that can help prevent a broken neck linked to osteoporosis. Initially, it is recommended to include weight-bearing exercises such as strength training and ensuring that the individual takes his/her calcium and vitamin D supplements daily. The doctor can even prescribe bone-building medications as well.
As for fractures due to trauma, prevention is also always applicable. It is better to stay safe by always wearing a seatbelt while driving a vehicle or as a passenger and wear a helmet during sports or other activities that requires one.