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Understanding The Treatment Options Available To You For Cervical Fractures

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A cervical fracture is a severe injury that can lead to loss of mobility, severe pain, paralysis, and other serious conditions. It's important to know what treatment options are available for cervical fractures in order to determine what's best for you. Here is information about cervical fractures and what you can do to help ensure this injury doesn't impair your health.

Understanding Cervical Fractures

Cervical fractures are characterized by a broken bone in one or more of the seven cervical vertebrae bones located in your neck, which are labeled C1 through C7. These bones allow you to twist and bend your neck, and also help protect your spinal cord, which allows your body to move.

There are many types of fractures, and it's important for an orthopedic doctor to examine your neck with an MRI, a C-Spine X-ray, and a CT scan. This can help an orthopedic doctor properly diagnose your cervical fracture and determine your best course of treatment.

Treatment Options

Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options available, some which can be combined with one another for the best results. Ultimately, every cervical fracture should be followed with physical therapy to build muscle strength and ensure proper healing. Here are your primary options:

Traction Therapy – Traction uses a system of weights to shift your bones into their proper place, and helps keep your cervical spine straight while you heal. Traction therapy can last 3 months or more.

Immobilization - immobilization covers a wide range of options all designed to ensure your head and neck don't move while you're in the process of healing. You may require use of the following immobilization options over the course of a few months for a complete heal of your cervical fracture:

  • Halo brace – This brace is attached to a vest and prevents almost all movements of your head and neck. The brace actually relies on pins placed into your skull to remain locked in place, and cannot be removed at any point during your treatment. Although a halo brace may not sound comfortable, it is often necessary to ensure your cervical vertebrae heal properly.
  • Semi-rigid collars and soft collars – Semi-rigid collars are for less extreme injuries and help keep your head locked in place, while soft collars are usually utilized toward the end of your treatment after you've utilized a halo brace or semi-rigid collar.

Orthopedic Surgery – You may also require a surgical intervention to repair your cervical injury. Usually surgery is utilized for only severe cervical fractures, and usually involves posterior or anterior surgery of your cervical vertebrae. Surgery is performed to correct highly unstable neck fractures, but may also be required to remove fragments of your spine that have broken off. Surgery does carry some risks, so be sure to speak with your orthopedic doctor about the pros and cons of the surgical route.

Pain Killers – Many people suffer severe pain due to cervical fractures, and require some kind of pain relief regardless of the severity of the fracture. It's important to regulate your painkillers in order to avoid tolerance and addiction issues, which means you should be counseled and monitored by your orthopedic surgeon throughout your treatment, both to maximize your comfort and to ensure you're receiving the adequate intake of painkillers.

Ultimately, you should explore all your treatment options with your orthopedic doctor surrounding your cervical fracture. This step will keep you informed about your own treatment and ensure you make the decision that leads to a successful healing process.

For more information, contact Orthopaedic Associates Of Osceola or a similar organization.