In vertebrates are those vertebrae immediately inferior to the skull.
A spinal fracture (or vertebral fracture) is a fracture affecting the bones of the spinal column. They can affect the cervical vertebrae (a cervical fracture), the thoracic, or the lumbar regions.
A compression fracture is a collapse of vertebra. It may be due to trauma or a weakening of the vertebra. This weakening is seen in patients with osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta, lytic lesions from metastatic or primary tumors, or infection. In healthy patients, it is most often seen in individuals suffering extreme vertical shocks, such as ejecting from an ejection seat. Seen in lateral views in plain x-ray films, compression fractures of the spine characteristically appear as wedge deformities, with greater loss of height anteriorly than posteriorly and intact pedicles in the anteroposterior view.
A cervical fracture is commonly called a broken neck . There are seven cervical vertebrae (neck bones) in the human neck, and the fracture of any can be catastrophic. The most common causes are traffic accidents or diving into shallow water. Abnormal movement of bones or pieces of bone can cause spinal cord injury resulting in loss of sensation, paralysis, or death. Considerable force is needed to cause a cervical fracture. Motor vehicle collisions and falls are common causes. A severe, sudden twist to the neck or a severe blow to the head or neck area can cause a cervical fracture. Sports involving violent physical contact carry a risk of cervical fracture.
Severe pain will usually be present at the point of injury. Pressure on a nerve may also cause pain from the neck down the shoulders and/or arms. Complete immobilization of the head and neck should be done as early as possible, and before moving the patient. Immobilization should remain in place until movement of the head and neck is proven safe. In the presence of severe head trauma, cervical fracture must be presumed until ruled out. Immobilization is imperative to minimize or prevent further spinal cord injury. The only exceptions are when there is imminent danger from an external cause, such as becoming trapped in a burning building. In the long term, physical therapy will be given to build strength in the muscles of the neck to increase stability and better protect the cervical spine. Collars, traction, and surgery can be used to immobilize and stabilize the neck after a cervical fracture.