A neck fracture is not the most common on-the-job injury, but it’s one that every worker should be fully aware of. From office workers to construction workers to individuals who drive delivery trucks, anyone and everyone is at risk of this serious injury.
A neck fracture, also known as a cervical fracture, occurs when there is a break in one or more of the seven cervical bones, ranging from C1 to C7. Not only do these bones protect the spinal cord, but they also allow for normal range of motion of the neck.
What causes a neck fracture?
A neck fracture is typically the result of severe trauma to the neck area, which can include but is not limited to:
- Slip and fall
- Fall from height
- Motor vehicle accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Blunt force trauma to the head
- Sudden twisting or turning of the neck
It’s easy to see how so many of these potential causes could come into play on a job site. For example, if you work in the construction industry, a fall from height is a possibility depending on your job responsibilities.
What are the symptoms?
A neck fracture is among the most serious injuries as it has the potential to cause extreme pain, paralysis and even death. If you suspect a neck fracture, it’s best to receive immediate medical assistance. Until then, immobilize your neck to prevent additional injury.
Common symptoms include:
- Severe pain
- Decreased feeling in the legs or arms
- Muscle weakness in the legs or arms
- Inability to move some or all body parts
If you suspect a neck fracture, your medical team will conduct an examination and order imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, and X-ray.
From there, based on the results, they’ll implement a treatment plan for stabilizing your injury and helping you with the recovery process.
If you suffered a neck fracture at work, report the incident to your employer and keep them abreast as to your recovery and the steps you’re taking. It’s not likely that you’ll return to work in the near future, so you should also file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.