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Medical staff helping asian patient with neck brace removing cervical neck collar after injury accident during consultation.

Recovery Time for a Broken Neck?

What Is the Recovery Time for a Broken Neck?

A broken neck can cause excruciating pain and alter your life permanently. We answered the most common questions about dealing with broken necks.

What’s the Recovery Time for a Broken Neck?

The recovery time for a broken neck depends on the extent of the injury. A broken neck or neck fracture happens when one or more cervical vertebrae break. The cervical vertebrae consist of seven small bones stacked together that support your head and protect your spine.

Neck injuries vary widely in severity and the impact on your life. A fracture is considered to be stable when proper treatment can help keep the bones in place and prevent any damage to the spinal cord. Minor breaks can heal after six to eight weeks of wearing a neck brace.

However, if the fracture is unstable, there’s a high chance the bones will move and cause further damage without adequate treatment. These broken neck recoveries are more complex. They may require traction, which is realigning the bones with a halo vest, or surgery and two to three months of wearing a rigid cast to heal.

What Are the Signs of a Broken Neck?

A neck injury is a medical emergency, as failure to treat it immediately can result in complications, such as paralysis and even death. If you have any of these symptoms after an accident, you may have sustained a neck injury:

  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness in the neck region
  • Pain in the neck region
  • Neck stiffness
  • Pain from the neck down to the shoulders and arms
  • Decreased sensation in the arms, legs, or body
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any of the symptoms of a broken neck after an accident, seek immediate medical care. You should also consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. This is vital because the statute of limitations only allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit within a specific time. Once that period elapses, you may lose your right to file a claim and receive compensation for your injuries.

Can a Neck Fracture Go Unnoticed?

Yes. It’s possible to not realize you have a neck fracture after an accident. Sometimes, the fracture does not appear on imaging exams. This can be dangerous, as prompt diagnosis is vital for broken neck recovery. A delayed diagnosis can worsen the condition and increase the recovery time for neck injury.

Can You Fully Recover From a Broken Neck?

Yes. A broken neck is a fracture that can heal completely. But things can be different if the injury severed a nerve or affected the spinal cord. If you suffered a minor neck fracture that did not affect your spinal cord, you can expect to recover fully with proper treatment. But full broken neck recovery may not be possible if it affects the spinal cord.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Broken Neck?

A broken neck requires immediate medical care. Failing to treat it can have serious consequences, including:

  • Pain and discomfort: Untreated broken neck bones can cause persistent and severe pain. The lack of movement and support in the injured area can increase discomfort.
  • Nerve damage: The cervical spine contains nerves that control various bodily functions. Damage to these nerves can cause loss of sensation, muscle weakness, or other neurological problems.
  • Breathing difficulties: Persons who sustain a neck injury may find breathing difficult. The cervical spine supports the head and protects the spinal cord, including the nerves that control breathing. A severe neck injury, such as a neck fracture that affects many cervical vertebrae, can affect the nerves responsible for respiratory function. The damage can lead to difficulty breathing.
  • Long-term instability: Without proper treatment, a broken neck may not heal correctly, which can affect the cervical spine. This instability can increase the risk of further injury and complications.
  • Spinal cord injury: A broken neck can damage the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis or even death, depending on the location and extent of the damage.
  • Death: In extreme cases, a broken neck can be fatal, especially if there is severe damage to the spinal cord or complications such as respiratory failure.

What Is the Treatment for a Broken Neck?

The primary goal in treating a broken neck is to stabilize the head and neck. This is commonly done through immobilization using cervical collars, neck braces, or traction.

Cervical Collar

Cervical collars, either soft or semirigid, restrict neck movement. Soft collars, usually made of foam or rubber, permit limited mobility, while semirigid collars with plastic plates prevent more extensive head movement. A person with a broken neck will usually wear the collar for six to eight weeks.

Traction

Severe fractures may require traction to reset the bones to their original positions. To do this, doctors use a halo vest. This device encircles the head and is attached to the skull with pins. Injured persons may wear halo vests continuously until the fracture fully heals, which may take up to 12 weeks.

Surgery

Severe neck fractures may require surgery to relieve spinal cord pressure or to treat damaged vertebral disks. The aim is to arrange the bones to preserve or restore neurologic function, provide spinal stability, and reduce pain.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Neck?

A broken neck is usually caused by traumatic accidents or incidents, including:

What Should You Do if You Suffer a Neck Fracture in an Accident?

If you sustained a broken neck in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, your priority is to get medical care. Go to the hospital even if you think the injury is minor. Some injuries may appear minor but later prove severe. The medical report will help to prove the extent of your injuries if you file a personal injury claim.

The next thing you should do is speak with a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you file a  lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries.

SOURCES:

OrthoInfo: Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck)

Medical News Today: Recovering From a Broken Neck

A broken neck can cause excruciating pain and alter your life permanently. We answered the most common questions about dealing with broken necks.

What’s the Recovery Time for a Broken Neck?

The recovery time for a broken neck depends on the extent of the injury. A broken neck or neck fracture happens when one or more cervical vertebrae break. The cervical vertebrae consist of seven small bones stacked together that support your head and protect your spine.

Neck injuries vary widely in severity and the impact on your life. A fracture is considered to be stable when proper treatment can help keep the bones in place and prevent any damage to the spinal cord. Minor breaks can heal after six to eight weeks of wearing a neck brace.

However, if the fracture is unstable, there’s a high chance the bones will move and cause further damage without adequate treatment. These broken neck recoveries are more complex. They may require traction, which is realigning the bones with a halo vest, or surgery and two to three months of wearing a rigid cast to heal.

What Are the Signs of a Broken Neck?

A neck injury is a medical emergency, as failure to treat it immediately can result in complications, such as paralysis and even death. If you have any of these symptoms after an accident, you may have sustained a neck injury:

  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness in the neck region
  • Pain in the neck region
  • Neck stiffness
  • Pain from the neck down to the shoulders and arms
  • Decreased sensation in the arms, legs, or body
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any of the symptoms of a broken neck after an accident, seek immediate medical care. You should also consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. This is vital because the statute of limitations only allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit within a specific time. Once that period elapses, you may lose your right to file a claim and receive compensation for your injuries.

Can a Neck Fracture Go Unnoticed?

Yes. It’s possible to not realize you have a neck fracture after an accident. Sometimes, the fracture does not appear on imaging exams. This can be dangerous, as prompt diagnosis is vital for broken neck recovery. A delayed diagnosis can worsen the condition and increase the recovery time for neck injury.

Can You Fully Recover From a Broken Neck?

Yes. A broken neck is a fracture that can heal completely. But things can be different if the injury severed a nerve or affected the spinal cord. If you suffered a minor neck fracture that did not affect your spinal cord, you can expect to recover fully with proper treatment. But full broken neck recovery may not be possible if it affects the spinal cord.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Broken Neck?

A broken neck requires immediate medical care. Failing to treat it can have serious consequences, including:

  • Pain and discomfort: Untreated broken neck bones can cause persistent and severe pain. The lack of movement and support in the injured area can increase discomfort.
  • Nerve damage: The cervical spine contains nerves that control various bodily functions. Damage to these nerves can cause loss of sensation, muscle weakness, or other neurological problems.
  • Breathing difficulties: Persons who sustain a neck injury may find breathing difficult. The cervical spine supports the head and protects the spinal cord, including the nerves that control breathing. A severe neck injury, such as a neck fracture that affects many cervical vertebrae, can affect the nerves responsible for respiratory function. The damage can lead to difficulty breathing.
  • Long-term instability: Without proper treatment, a broken neck may not heal correctly, which can affect the cervical spine. This instability can increase the risk of further injury and complications.
  • Spinal cord injury: A broken neck can damage the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis or even death, depending on the location and extent of the damage.
  • Death: In extreme cases, a broken neck can be fatal, especially if there is severe damage to the spinal cord or complications such as respiratory failure.

What Is the Treatment for a Broken Neck?

The primary goal in treating a broken neck is to stabilize the head and neck. This is commonly done through immobilization using cervical collars, neck braces, or traction.

Cervical Collar

Cervical collars, either soft or semirigid, restrict neck movement. Soft collars, usually made of foam or rubber, permit limited mobility, while semirigid collars with plastic plates prevent more extensive head movement. A person with a broken neck will usually wear the collar for six to eight weeks.

Traction

Severe fractures may require traction to reset the bones to their original positions. To do this, doctors use a halo vest. This device encircles the head and is attached to the skull with pins. Injured persons may wear halo vests continuously until the fracture fully heals, which may take up to 12 weeks.

Surgery

Severe neck fractures may require surgery to relieve spinal cord pressure or to treat damaged vertebral disks. The aim is to arrange the bones to preserve or restore neurologic function, provide spinal stability, and reduce pain.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Neck?

A broken neck is usually caused by traumatic accidents or incidents, including:

What Should You Do if You Suffer a Neck Fracture in an Accident?

If you sustained a broken neck in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, your priority is to get medical care. Go to the hospital even if you think the injury is minor. Some injuries may appear minor but later prove severe. The medical report will help to prove the extent of your injuries if you file a personal injury claim.

The next thing you should do is speak with a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you file a  lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries.

SOURCES:

OrthoInfo: Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck)

Medical News Today: Recovering From a Broken Neck

Morris & Dewett provides this information to the public for general education and interest. The firm does not represent clients in every topic discussed in answers to frequent questions. The information is curated and produced based on questions commonly asked or search terms commonly used. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. Do not make any decision solely based on the information provided, please seek relevant counsel for each topic area. Consult an attorney before making any legal decision, consult a doctor before making any medical decision, and consult a financial advisor before making any fiscal decision. Information provided is not legal advice. If you have any legal needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are pleased to assist you.

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