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Cervical Fracture


  • A cervical fracture is a break in 1 or more of the 7 cervical vertebrae (bones) in your neck. Cervical vertebrae support your head and allow your neck to bend and twist. The vertebrae enclose and protect the spinal cord, which controls your ability to move. Cervical fractures can happen after injuring the neck in motor vehicle accidents, falls, diving, and contact sports. Because a cervical fracture can also harm the spinal cord, it can be a very serious injury.
    Vertebral Column



  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your spine specialist or healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Skin and brace care:

Skin breakdown can lead to deep wounds caused by pressure or pulling on your skin. Check your chin, ears, back of your head, and shoulders for redness or sores if you are wearing a brace. Check the skin daily around halo brace pins for signs of infection, such as redness or bad-smelling drainage. Change your vest lining if it gets wet. Ask your healthcare provider how to care for your halo pins and vest. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about using a halo brace, semirigid collar, or soft collar.


A physical therapist and an occupational therapist may exercise your arms, legs, and hands. They may also teach you new ways to do things around the house. A speech therapist may work with you to help you talk or swallow.

Wound care:

Ask your healthcare provider to show you how to care for your wound.

Contact your spine specialist or healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You see a skin rash, redness, or sores under your brace.
  • You have problems swallowing while you are wearing your halo brace.
  • Your neck pain is not getting better even with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your cervical fracture, medicine, or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache with nausea and vomiting.
  • You are seeing double or cannot see out of 1 eye.
  • You cannot stay awake.
  • The pins in your halo brace have loosened or look deeper in the skin than before.
  • You feel new weakness or numbness in your hands or fingers.
  • You are short of breath.
  • You cannot feel or move your arms or legs.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain. You cough up blood.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cervical Fracture (Discharge Care)

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