Broken Neck: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Broken Neck Overview

Suffering a broken neck can be a traumatic, life changing experience or it can be a more minor injury that you recovery from in several weeks. However, any sort of trauma to your neck must be investigated as a matter of urgency so your injury can be correctly diagnosed and treated sooner rather than later.

Broken Neck

Broken Neck

Although suffering a broken neck is the sort of injury that you may think would be life-threatening, it is not always fatal or is it the sort of injury that results in disability. The prognosis for anyone who suffers a  broken neck would depend on the complexity and the severity of their injury. With this said, all neck fractures must be treated as a medical emergency that need to be correctly diagnosed and treated without delay.

To find out more about broken neck injuries, the common causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and whether you may be entitled to receive any free medical care, therapies and medical aids that could help speed up your broken neck recovery time safely, please click on the Select a Section below.

Select a Section

What is the Definition of a Broken Neck?

It would be fair to say that a lot of people believe that suffering a broken neck is an extremely serious injury that may leave them paralysed or severely disabled. Although a catastrophic fracture to your neck could be life-threatening and/or life changing, you could sustain a minor fracture to your neck which could be less serious. With this said, whether you were involved in a road traffic accident, collision or some other incident that left you with an injury to your neck, no matter how minor you think it is, you must seek medical attention straight away to prevent any further damage occurring.

In short, the severity of your neck fracture would depend on the amount of damage done to the vertebrae, nerves, blood vessels and soft tissue found in and around your neck as well as the extent of the damage. All neck injuries must be taken very seriously and it is routine practice to immobilise a person’s neck as quickly as possible while at the same time preventing the person from moving.

What are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Neck?

You can sustain a broken neck in a multitude of ways, but the most common causes of this type of injury are as follows:

A neck fracture caused by trauma

  • You can suffer a broken neck if you are involved in a road traffic accident or collision and if this occurs, a person must be immobilised immediately to prevent any further damage. Any movement could result in catastrophic damage being done which could lead to paralysis. As such, only a medically trained person should attempt to move you should you have suffered this type of injury to your neck. It is also important to remember that if you do sustain a suspected fracture to your neck, you may go into shock

Neck fractures caused by osteoporosis

  • If you have been diagnosed as suffering from osteoporosis which is a condition that results in weakened bones, it puts you at greater risk of fracturing vertebrae in your neck. Elderly people often sustain minor fractures for this reason which are referred to as microfractures

With this said, the most common causes for suffering a broken neck are detailed below:

  • A fall from a height, examples being from a bike, horse or ladder
  • Being involved in a road traffic accident or collision
  • Osteoporosis – weakened bones
  • Because of specific health disorders that negatively impact your bones, examples being cysts and tumour
  • A loss of muscle mass
  • Contact sports examples being rugby, football and ice hockey – many people are more at risk of sustaining a broken neck in football and when playing rugby
  • Failure to wear the correct protective sporting equipment
  • Failure to wear a seat belt while in a car
  • Receiving a trauma injury to your head
  • A violent attack

If you are involved in any other the above and suffer a serious injury to your neck, you must seek medical attention as a matter of urgency. Neck fractures can be minor or they can be extremely severe which is why it is so important for this type of traumatic injury to be treated as a medical emergency.

What Are the Symptoms of a Broken Neck?

Suffering a broken neck can be an extremely painful and worrying experience although with a minor fracture the pain can be more bearable. With this said, even you suspect you have suffered a slight injury to your neck, you must seek medical attention without delay, just in case you go into shock. The most common broken neck symptoms are detailed below:

  • Pain in your neck, shoulders and arms
  • Swelling at the back of your neck
  • Bruising around the back of your neck
  • Tenderness around your neck
  • You may experience muscle spasms
  • You could experience difficulty swallowing

If any of the above symptoms present following an accident or incident that left you with a suspected serious injury to your neck, you must not be moved and someone should call for an ambulance. It is far better to err on the side of caution with any sort of injury to your neck and to be moved by a paramedic or doctor after having a neck support applied to your neck.

If you would like to know whether you would be entitled to receive private medical care for a broken neck free of charge at a health facility in your area, please contact our team of health experts today. We can let you know straight away what you may be entitled to.

How is a Broken Neck Diagnosed?

A doctor would need to know how you sustained your injury, whether you were involved in a road traffic accident, whether you fell from a height, received your injury playing sports or because of some other incident. Your injury would be thoroughly examined while you are kept as still as possible to prevent any further damage occurring. The tests that a doctor would do to confirm an initial diagnosis are as follows:

  • A series of x-rays – broken neck x-rays identify the extent of your injuries and which of the bones have been negatively impacted
  • CT scans – these would show up how much soft tissue damage has occurred
  • MRI scans – this type of scan provides greater detail of your injury
  • SSEP tests – somatosensory evoked potential test which is also known as magnetic stimulation

These tests would not only identify which of the vertebrae in your neck have been negatively impacted, they would also establish if any damage has occurred to your spinal cord.

It you are unhappy with your NHS broken neck diagnosis and/or treatment, you may find that you are entitled to receive free medical care in a private facility that is local to where you live. To find out more, please call one of our health experts today.

How is a Broken Neck Treated?

Fractured neck

Fractured neck

If you sustain a serious injury to your neck and suspect you may have suffered a fracture, the most essential thing to do is remain still. Immobilisation is crucial if any sort of suspected neck fracture occurs. As such the initial treatment is as follows:

The end goal of any initial broken neck treatment is to immobilise your head and stabilise your neck as quickly as possible – if you suffered your injury while wearing any sort of helmet, this must remain in place as would shoulder pads worn when playing certain sports. Once you are immobilised, your neck injury would be assessed to establish whether there are any secondary injuries, if you are in shock and/or if your airways are blocked in which case a tube may be inserted to help you breath. You may be administered fluids intravenously

Initial hospital care

Once you are admitted to hospital, your condition would be reassessed as follows:

  • To determine the severity and extent of your neck injuries
  • To establish whether any cervical bones have been negatively impacted and which sections have been fractured
  • To determine if any permanent or temporary nerve or spinal cord damage has occurred

How your broken neck would be treated depends on the complexity and severity of your injury. The most common treatments for this type of injury are detailed below:

  • A fracture that has not negatively impacted your spinal cord would typically be treated by administering pain relief medication and by applying a medical brace to your neck. Rest and recuperation is an essential part of your treatment when it comes to minor fractures
  • Fractures that are more severe may need surgical intervention after which a robust neck brace would be fitted to your neck
  • Should your injury have negatively impacted your spinal cord, treatment options are limited and as such, this level of damage can be catastrophic because a spinal cord cannot heal itself and as such, there is no treatment available

Catastrophic neck fractures can result in paralysis and are serious, life-threatening injuries that must be treated as medical emergencies.

Other broken neck treatment options include the following:

  • A neck collar or brace may be used to support your neck should you have suffered a minor fracture which you would typically have to wear for anything up to 8 weeks to aid a broken neck healing time
  • You may have to be put in traction if you sustain a serious or unstable neck fracture and you would have to remain this way for anything up to 12 weeks during the recovery process
  • You may need to undergo surgery with plates, wires and screws being inserted with an end goal being to keep fractured bone pieces in place. Your neck fracture may also need surgical intervention to repair damaged vertebrae, to remove vertebral discs that are beyond repair or to relieve any pressure on your spinal cord

You would need to remain in hospital for a considerable amount of time and if your injuries are catastrophic, you would be kept in intensive care so your condition can be closely monitored. In certain cases, people who suffer severe neck fractures need help breathing and as such are placed on ventilators. You would also be given the following should a doctor deem it necessary:

  • Pain relief medication
  • A course of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection

Would I Qualify for Free Private Treatment for a Broken Neck?

It is crucial that your injury is correctly diagnosed and that you receive the correct treatment if you think you have sustained serious damage to your neck. Although NHS broken neck treatment is exceptionally good, having a dedicated team of specialists in the private sector diagnose and treat such a traumatic injury provides extra piece of mind. With this said, you may find that you would be entitled to free private medical care and free private physiotherapy aftercare in your area which many people are not aware of. To find out more, please contact one of our health experts who can tell you in minutes what therapies are available locally to you and whether you qualify.

What Sort of Treatments are Available Free of Charge for a Broken Neck?

As previously touched upon, there may be certain treatments, aftercare and medical aids that you could be entitled to receive having suffered a broken neck. These are detailed below:

  • Free private treatment in a private health facility that is local to you
  • Free private physiotherapy in your area which would consist of a tailored physio programme specific to your particular needs
  • Free medical aids which could include neck braces, collars and wheelchair all of which could help you through your recovery

How Long is the Recovery Period for a Broken Neck?

Broken neck recovery time depends on the complexity and severity of your injury. With this said, typical healing time for neck fractures are detailed below:

  • Minor neck fractures can take anything up to 8 weeks to mend and heal
  • A more serious fracture can take up to 3 months to heal
  • A catastrophic neck fracture can result in paralysis

Anyone who suffers a broken neck must be take in easy during the recovery process and follow the advice provided by a doctor, surgeon or physiotherapist throughout the healing time.

Can I Safely Speed up My Recovery From a Broken Neck?

Physiotherapy is an essential part of a broken neck recovery process and having a tailored programme set in place as soon as possible has shown to be helpful when it comes to speeding up the recovery time safely. This is true for young and elderly people who suffer neck fractures and who need extra support during their rehabilitation.

To find out whether you would qualify for free private physiotherapy in a facility that is local to you, please contact one of our health experts who would tell you straight away what therapies are available and whether you would qualify to receive them.

I Think My Doctor Missed Something When Treating My Broken Neck, What Should I Do?

If you think that your doctor missed something when diagnosing your fractured neck or you are unhappy with a treatment and your recovery process. You should carry out as much research as possible on this type of injury which could help confirm any suspicions you may have. The links provided at the bottom of the page offer essential reading on neck fractures, the various treatments and the importance of rehabilitation following this type of injury.

Could I Qualify for Free Orthopaedic Assessment of My Broken Neck Report?

You may find that you are entitled to a free orthopaedic assessment of your broken bone report which you would have been given a copy of when you were first diagnosed in an NHS hospital. This could highlight any errors that may have been made whether in the broken neck diagnosis or treatment or it could allay your fears. To find out more please speak to one of our health experts today.

Are There Any Complications Associated With a Broken Neck?

Suffering a broken neck can be a traumatic, catastrophic, life-changing experience and as such must always be treated as a medical emergency. The complications associated with this type of neck injury are detailed below:

  • Permanent damage to vertebrae and nerves in your neck
  • Paralysis due to a spinal cord and nerves being negatively impacted

If you are worried about anything to do with your injury and would like a second opinion, you may find that you are entitled to a free orthopaedic assessment of your broken bone report. Call one of our health experts today and find out whether you would also qualify to receive any other private medical care in your area free of charge.

What are the Long Term Health Issues Associated with a Broken Neck?

There are some long term health concerns associated with broken neck injuries which are as follows:

  • A loss of mobility
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis

To find out whether you would be entitled to free private medical care having sustained a fracture to your neck, please speak to one of our health experts today.

Call Today and Find Out What Free Treatments are Available in Your Area

Having suffered such a serious injury like a broken neck, you need all the medical help and support you can get. Broken neck recovery time can take a long time which is why having private medical as soon as possible can offer piece of mind. Call one of our health experts today and find out whether you would qualify for free private medical care, physiotherapy aftercare and medical aids and what is available in your area. You may also find that you qualify for an independent free orthopaedic assessment of your NHS broken bone report which could confirm an initial diagnosis or highlight anything that may have been originally missed.

Our phone lines are open 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm and our team of friendly health experts are waiting to take your call. We can tell you within minutes what sort of treatments and therapies you would be entitled to receive locally to you. Call today on 020 3870 4868.

Links That Provide Essential Reading on Broken Neck Injuries

If you suffered a fracture to your neck and would like more information on rehabilitation for this type of injury, the link below provides essential reading on the topic:

More information about rehabilitation following a neck injury

To find out more about fractures to the neck and how to cope with the pain, please follow the link below:

More about pain management

To find out more about neck braces and collars, please follow the link below

More about wearing a neck collar or brace