Broken Neck

A broken neck is one of the most severe types of injuries a person can sustain. Possible outcomes often involve permanent disability by way of paralysis, limited mobility, or issues with nerve and respiratory function. The recovery period for such an injury can be lengthy – if it’s even plausible. 

With that being said, if you have recently suffered a broken neck, it’s important to understand what that kind of personal injury entails, the treatment options that lay ahead, and the potential long-term impact on your health and quality of life.

Broken Neck Overview

The human neck is composed of seven bones known as the cervical vertebrae, which are labeled C1-C7. Saying that someone has “broken their neck” is an informal term for a cervical fracture. Nevertheless, when a cervical vertebra breaks, the bone alone isn’t all that’s impacted. 

The neck serves as the topmost part of your spinal column, which itself is a complex collection of bones, tissues, muscles, and nerves. The nerves contained in the spinal column spread out throughout the entire body and are responsible for how other body parts maintain contact with the brain. 

Since the neck sits at the top of the spinal column, severe neck injuries often have a devastating impact on overall bodily function. Often, a spinal cord injury results in loss of function, mobility, and sensation everywhere below the point of injury, alongside disruptions to organ function and the body’s major systems. 

What Are the Common Causes of a Broken Neck?

Given its lack of support and cushioning, the neck is a delicate structure, one that is far more vulnerable to injury than the other parts of the spine. 

With that said, a broken neck can be the outcome of a wide variety of accident types, such as: 

Anytime you’re involved in an accident in which your neck is snapped, bent, or sustains any other form of trauma, seek medical aid as soon as possible. Failing to promptly receive appropriate treatment for a broken neck can lead to dire complications and a delayed — if not impossible — recovery. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Broken Neck?

On paper, a broken neck sounds like a catastrophic injury — and under certain circumstances, it certainly is one — but in actuality, the symptoms of a broken neck can range considerably. On one end of the spectrum, a broken neck can result in instant death, often when a fracture interferes with the nerves that control breathing or heart function. 

On the other end, though, a mild neck fracture may not even be detected immediately. If one of the vertebrae in the neck is cracked during an accident, it’s possible to assume the sensations of neck pain and reduced mobility are simply a natural outcome of the accident. 

Some of the most common symptoms of a broken neck include the following:

  • Neck pain that ranges from mild to severe
  • Limited mobility
  • Difficulty turning the neck or lifting arms
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Paralysis
  • Breathing issues
  • Heart irregularities 

Therefore, the symptoms of a broken neck can fall anywhere between the two extremes mentioned above. The exact range of symptoms a person experiences will also depend on the size, shape, and location of the fracture. As such, it is always best to have your neck examined by a medical professional after a serious accident.

Diagnosing a Broken Neck

The process of diagnosing a broken neck typically begins with a physical evaluation, in which a doctor will examine the shape and appearance of your neck and ask you to describe the symptoms you’re experiencing, if any.

If your symptoms are severe — or the results of the physical examination indicate the possibility of fracture — you’ll likely have to undergo imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. A doctor may also conduct neurological tests to assess whether you’ve sustained any nerve damage

What Are Some Treatment Options for a Broken Neck?

Treatment for a broken neck will depend on the nature and severity of the break. As with any broken bone, the standard treatment approach is to set the bones so they can properly fuse while immobilizing the injured area as it heals. In the case of a broken neck, that will typically involve the use of a neck brace or cervical collar. 

Immobilization alone may be sufficient for allowing a minor neck fracture to heal. 

However, more severe damage to the bones and nerves often requires additional forms of treatment, such as: 

  • Bone surgery
  • Surgery for damaged or compressed nerves
  • Insertion of metal rods or plates to stabilize the spine
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain management medication

Living with a severe neck injury can also have a profound effect on an individual’s family relationships and overall quality of life. That’s why it is common for doctors to also recommend therapy or counseling in the aftermath of a life-altering neck injury.

What Are Common Costs Associated With a Broken Neck?

Even when a full recovery is eventually possible, a broken neck can still be a costly medical event. If a full recovery is not possible (often in the case of paralysis), added expenses arise, such as the need for ongoing attendant care and medical devices, such as a wheelchair. Altogether, the costs of long-term care can reach six — even seven — figures.  

Some of the many costs associated with a broken neck comprise the following: 

  • Ambulance bills
  • General medical bills
  • Imaging costs
  • Surgery costs
  • Assistive device costs
  • Attendant care costs
  • Prescription medication costs
  • Physical and occupational rehabilitation costs
  • Therapist or counselor costs

In addition to the many direct expenses of a broken neck, it’s also common for families to experience an indirect blow to their finances due to a loss of income.

If the injured person was employed, they may be left unable to return to work, leading to the loss of wages and benefits such as health insurance coverage. At the same time, other family members might also have to either stop working to provide care or figure out how to afford their loved one’s attendant care costs. 

Ultimately, unless an experienced lawyer steps in to help recover neck injury compensation, a broken neck can be a financially devastating event. 

Call a Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyer For Help With a Back Injury Claim

Don’t wait to ask for help with recovering compensation after suffering a broken neck. The experienced team at Kenny Habetz Injury Law is ready to help. Schedule a free consultation with a neck injury lawyer in Lafayette, LA at (337) 399-9000.