Broken Neck

A broken neck is an unfortunately common outcome of many traumatic situations, from work accidents to car wrecks. While in some cases, a victim can experience a full recovery from a broken neck, such an injury often results in permanent paralysis. 

Knowing how a broken neck is diagnosed, how it is treated, and the long-term impact of the injury can help you understand what to expect in the event that you or a loved one are injured.

Understanding Broken Neck Injuries

Understanding Broken Neck Injuries

The neck itself is the section of the spine that runs from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders. The seven bones that make up the structure of the neck are collectively known as the cervical vertebrae. As such, a broken neck injury involves any of these bones breaking or cracking.

The outcome of a neck fracture is directly related to the type and extent of damage. For instance, a broken neck resulting from a minor fracture to a single vertebra is more likely to result in a full recovery. Conversely, a broken neck that involves extensive damage to multiple or all of the cervical vertebrae is more likely to lead to an outcome like permanent paralysis. 

The neck and its vertebrae also house eight pairs of cervical nerves. When bones in the neck break, the injury often causes damage to these nerves. The more severe the nerve damage, the more likely it is for the injured person to experience permanent injuries. 

Common Causes of a Broken Neck

The neck has little protection during most accidents. As a result, broken necks are a frequent outcome of a variety of different accident types. 

Some of the most common causes include the following: 

Broken necks are common in such a variety of accidents because the neck can be injured in just as many ways. Direct blows to the head, the sudden braking that occurs in a car accident, and landing on the head, neck, or back during a fall are all situations that put the bones in the neck at risk of fracture.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Neck 

When a broken neck is severe, it’s generally impossible to miss. Serious damage to the vertebrae in the neck typically leads to obvious symptoms, such as severe pain, paralysis, or the inability to hold up the head. 

However, it is possible to suffer a minor break or fracture to the cervical vertebrae without realizing it. In cases like these, the affected individual runs the risk of making their injury worse by failing to realize that the bones in their neck are already damaged. 

While a broken neck can lead to immediate paralysis, that is not always the outcome. 

Other common signs and symptoms of a broken neck include such things as:

  • Neck pain ranging from a dull ache to severe discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Limited or zero mobility
  • Tingling sensations in the neck, shoulders, arms, or legs
  • Muscle weakness in the neck or back
  • Difficulty standing up or walking
  • Issues with balance and coordination

Nevertheless, anytime an injury involves trauma to the neck or an individual experiences symptoms of a broken neck, they should seek emergency medical care. 

Broken Neck Diagnosis and Treatment

A broken neck is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical exams, neurological tests, and X-ray imaging. Doctors may also use additional forms of imaging, such as CT scans or MRIs, to identify the extent of any sustained nerve damage.  

Once a broken neck is diagnosed, the recommended course of treatment will depend on the severity of the break. For a minor neck fracture, treatment is typically non-invasive. It may involve wearing a neck brace until the injury is healed, attending physical therapy, and resting during the recovery period. 

For more serious neck injuries, however, treatment is more likely to involve surgical intervention. to help align the bones or treat damaged nerves. Surgery may also involve the insertion of plates, screws, or wires to help support strength and mobility.

When a neck fracture requires surgery, it usually also requires traction, which involves placing the patient into a position where they have little to no mobility so the break can heal properly. If traction is necessary, it typically lasts for around 12 weeks. 

Long-Term Outcomes for a Broken Neck 

The long-term outcomes of a broken neck can vary wildly. In the best scenario, a patient can make a full recovery with little lasting impact. 

In others, the physical injury may heal but still leave the patient with lasting effects, such as: 

  • Chronic pain
  • Reduced mobility
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Loss of feeling
  • Tingling or pinching sensations

In the most severe cases, a broken neck may leave a patient with serious permanent injuries. A broken neck that results in paralysis typically leaves the injured person in need of lifelong attendant care.  

Common Expenses Associated With a Broken Neck

A broken neck can be an incredibly costly type of injury, even in cases that eventually result in a full recovery. 

A serious neck injury incurs costs that include: 

  • Ambulance bills
  • General medical bills
  • Surgery costs
  • Specialist/neurologist costs
  • Physical and occupational therapy costs
  • Prescription medication costs
  • Medical device costs
  • Attendant care costs

When partial or full paralysis is the outcome, the costs of a broken neck grow even steeper. When a serious neck injury leaves the injured person with a loss of earning ability and the need to pay for long-term attendant care, the expenses can be financially disastrous. 

On top of that, an individual with a severe neck injury will likely suffer the loss of earning ability, which means their current and future wages and benefits will be lost as their medical costs grow. 

Call a Spinal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has suffered a broken neck, a spinal injury attorney may be able to help you recover personal injury compensation. The neck injury lawyers at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers in Phoenix, AZ, can review your case and help you understand your options. 

Our personal injury firm has helped thousands of clients recover the compensation they need after a serious injury. We’re proud to carry a 98% success rate, and our client testimonials and case results show that when it comes to obtaining neck injury compensation in Phoenix, our firm knows how to succeed. 

Call Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Phoenix spinal injury attorney.