An Overview of Cervical Spine Fractures and Dislocation

Cervical Spine Fracture

An Overview of Cervical Spine Fractures and Dislocation

Cervical spine fractures and dislocation are not rare; still, a lot of them are unaware of this condition due to the medical terminologies. As a spine fracture specialist in Ahmedabad, it is our responsibility to educate you about it.

Cervical Spine Fracture

Several types of spinal tumors are categorized into primary and secondary spinal tumors. Primary bone spine tumors originate in the spinal cord, whereas secondary or metastatic tumors result from cancerous growth from other sites to the spine. These tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous), and as a spine specialist in Ahmedabad, we have briefly explained four benign spine tumors in this blog.

What is Cervical Spine Fracture and Dislocation?

Cervical fracture is a condition wherein a bone breaks in the neck, i.e., the cervical region of the spine. In contrast, cervical dislocation is an injury to the supportive ligaments that may or may not be associated with the fracture of one or more vertebrae.

The majority of spine dislocations and fractures occur in the cervical region since it is the most vulnerable and mobile area of the spinal column. It is mostly from high-energy trauma like road accidents in young adults but can also happen in old age osteoporotic patients because of low-energy trauma. These conditions are generally classified on the basis of their location/region and fracture/injury pattern. Because of our body’s build, which places the spine near the head, injuries in the cervical area of the spine are characterized into Occiput – C2 (Occipital-Cervical) and C3-C7 (Subaxial Cervical) spine injuries. Different injuries in these categories are further divided according to location and type. Some of the classifications are:

Occiput C-2 (Occipital-Cervical)

  • Atlas fractures (C1)
  • Atlantoaxial rotary subluxation
  • Atlanto-axial instability
  • Atlanto-occipital dislocation (AOD)
  • Axis fractures (C2 vertebral body)
  • Odontoid fractures
  • Occipital condyle fractures
  • Traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis (C2)

C3-C7 (Subaxial Cervical)

  • Compression extension
  • Compression flexion (teardrop fracture)
  • Distraction extension
  • Distraction flexion (facet dislocation/fracture)
  • Lateral flexion
  • Vertical compression (burst fracture)

What are the Causes of Cervical Fractures & Dislocation?

Falls, vehicle accidents, sports, and falls commonly cause cervical fractures and dislocation. The sudden twisting and impact on the neck can lead to cracks in the bones, rupturing of the ligaments, or both. The event or trauma that causes cervical conditions or instability can also damage neurologic structures or the spinal cord. The worst part of this injury is that it is generally permanent and irreversible. These conditions are common in males of ages 15 to 24.

What are the Symptoms of Cervical Fractures & Dislocation?

Patients suffering from cervical fractures generally have neck stiffness and pain. Those suffering from other injuries might overlook the severe pain in the neck and complain of pain in different areas. Those suffering from neurological irritation or compression might have weakness or numbness in their legs or arms.

Moreover, injuries or fractures in the upper region of the spine and spinal cord can impact the breathing’s neurologic control. As a result, patients might complain of breathing difficulties or inability to take deep breaths.

Diagnosis of Cervical Spine Fractures & Dislocation

This condition is most commonly diagnosed when a patient is involved in an accident or trauma, especially those who suffer from neck pain after the unfortunate event. Diagnosing cervical spine fractures and dislocations is difficult when the physical findings or symptoms are not common. Only some patients with injuries or fractures will complain of pain in other areas but might not notice or complain of neck pain.

Most of the time, patients may be unconscious, intoxicated, or neglecting the injury, or their cervical pain/dislocation might be associated with other chest, bone, abdomen, and head injuries, warranting the expert examination of a spine specialist. For the appropriate diagnosis, the doctors will conduct clinical tests (particularly the palpation and inspection of the spine) or imaging tests based on the severity of the patient’s condition.

A Note from IndoSpine Hospital

The available treatment options for this condition depend on several factors, including the type of injury/fracture/dislocation. They are generally divided into nonoperative (conservative) and operative (surgical) treatments. Our spine specialists and the best spine surgeon in Ahmedabad will take excellent care of your spine. So, don’t worry and visit us!