A neck fracture is a break in any of the 7 vertebrae in the neck.
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This injury is caused by trauma to the neck from:
Things that may raise the risk of a fracture are:
Symptoms may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked how the injury happened. An exam will be done that focuses on your neck. It will also look for nerve damage.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
A neck fracture is a severe injury that can lead to paralysis or death. It depends which bones are broken and whether there is spinal cord injury. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone. Options may be:
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. Surgery may be done using plates, screws, or wires to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place.
Most fractures are due to accidents. Always wear a seatbelt. Healthy muscles may also prevent some injuries. This may be done through exercise.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Cervical fracture (broken neck). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
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Updated December 2013. Accessed September 27, 2019.
Spinal cord injury—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/spinal-cord-injury-emergency-management. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Yue JK, Tsolinas R, et al. Vasopressor support in managing acute spinal cord injury: a knowledge update. J Neurosurg Sci. 2017 Mar 1 early online.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/4/2020