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Old 03-17-2011, 01:21 PM   #1
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Fracture/break in c7

Police detective here. Was involved in a pretty bad accident while in route to investigate a rape. Had someone attempt a turn in front of me and we hit. I was told after a X-ray and catscan that I have broken my neck which was described by my work mans comp doctor as a fracture of c7. Have a visit to a specialist tomorrow to see what the next step is. My concern is long term issues here. I have to fight people time to time. I have to shoot a gun. Will this type of injury jeopardize my job as a police officer?

It appears based on everything according to our work mans comp dr that I won't need surgery but have to wait to verify that tomorrow. Any info on this type ofmfracture would be appreciated!

Last edited by Mouseofzen; 03-17-2011 at 01:38 PM.

 
Old 03-17-2011, 03:32 PM   #2
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

It will depend on where it was fractured and what kind of fracture. Did the bone pieces stay aligned or are they out of alignment? Did it break in an area where there are small joints? Did it damage any of the ligaments or tendons that hold everything together?

I had 3 fractures 4 years ago and 2 of them were left alone to heal as the bone pieces moved apart but with time, would come back together. But one fracture left the bone in a very bad area where it was sticking into the spinal cord so that needed immediate surgery.

See the specialist and see what he/she says. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion from a top notch spine neurosurgeon. Experience and expertise matters here. Insist WC let you see a top doc.

My situation was different from yours so we can't compare outcomes but I don't see why you wouldn't be able to go back to work once healed.

Let us know what the doc says.

Jenny

 
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

I didn't have a fracture at C7, but did have a fall which caused the vertebrae to be pushed out of alignment and into the spinal cord. My neurosurgeon was able to reposition it and stabilize it with a plate, which has been very successful. I think if I had not had the spinal cord compromised for so long, (nearly a year, before it was accurately diagnosed) I would hardly notice anything happened. The fusion itself does not give me any problems.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:45 PM   #4
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

Went to spine specialist today. Says no surgery and to stay at home with brace on for 3 weeks and then come back for X-rays and probable to be sent back to work on possible light duty for several more weeks.

The workman comp doctor seems like I should be fine to go back to work now. When I told him the above findings and treatment, he said he wants to be there with the two of us at the next appoinmemt because the specialist doesn't understand your job and restrictions you would need. This is the same workman comp dr that said I could go back to work yesterday, just 3 days post accident.

Really feel he is trying to push me back to work. I need info on my type of injury and when it would be wise to be back at work as a cop.

I do not want to rush this at all. The specialist even said I could sleep without the brace which I found surprising.

I fear this will be something that will bother me ongoing and with the findings of the condition of the back stated above which I never knew makes be believe a fracture of c7 will rapidly effect the degenerate facet of c5&6.


This was noted by the ER staff night of accident:
There is an oblique non displaced fracture through the left articular process of c7. Slight scoliotic curvature convex to the left with ape near c7




This was discovered and documented the night of the accident by the ER staff:
degenerTe facet changes are seen at c5 and c6. There is curvature of the cervical spine which may represent underlying torticoliis.

 
Old 03-18-2011, 04:50 PM   #5
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

Sorry, the bottom of my last post will contain the ER findings of the status of my back prior to my c7 fracture along with the findings of the c7 fracture which occurred this past monday night. I had mentioned in last post it was "stated above"

Last edited by Mouseofzen; 03-18-2011 at 04:52 PM.

 
Old 03-18-2011, 05:30 PM   #6
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

Just to clarify the info for you, the facet joints are very small areas on the backside of the vertebrae that attach above and below to the other vertebrae and they help you with twisting motions. It is not the main joint surface of the vertebra. Arthritis of these joints is really, really common. And they aren't affected by this fracture. That is in a different area.

The fracture is at the main joint surface but it didn't get displaced(moved out of alignment from where it was originally). So the broken piece will just heal back together. It's more like a chip of the bone than a through and through fracture.Think of breaking a bone in your leg and it looks on x-rays like a clear line...nothing moved out of place....like someone drew a line across it...that is what you have. No need to move it back into place or pin it in place and it hasn't shifted to cause a problem with your spinal cord or spinal nerves. It is the best possible fracture you can get. All it has to do is heal in place.

I had a similar fracture in my wrist and all I had to do was wear a splint for 10 days.

As for not wearing the neck brace at night, that should be okay as it will allow your muscles to work and not atrophy......a big problem with those braces. The pressure of your head is off the neck vertebrae so it's okay. When up, the pressure of your head is there so you need to control movement until the fracture starts to heal. I had x-rays done 3 weeks after my fractures and the bones were healing nicely at that point. Which is good because I fell backwards in the kitchen and hit my head on the fridge. Neck was fine. Yours should be too.

What this injury may do however is cause the arthritis that is already in your neck, to spread and speed up. So in the future, report any and all pain you have in your neck so it is covered by WC in the future.

If you read some of the injuries people have had here, you'll find that you were the lucky one when it comes to neck injuries. Yours should heal well, without surgery and might never give you any trouble at all.

I know as a cop you have a very tough job and need to be in great condition but really, I think you'll do fine. I'd kill for your neck! Mine is held together by 8"titanium rods and 20 screws all the way down to my shoulders.

But do as the docs tell you so you have a good WC claim down the road should you need it. But I bet you never do.

Thanks for protecting us.....................Jenny

PS. the slight scoliosis or torticollis that they saw was probably something you were born with...a slight twisting or curving of the neck vertebrae. It was there before and after so it was probably a congenital thing.

Last edited by jennybyc; 03-18-2011 at 05:33 PM. Reason: forgot, added PS

 
Old 03-18-2011, 07:17 PM   #7
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Re: Fracture/brake in c7

Thanks for info.don't get me wrong. I consider myself very lucky. What I am afraid of is the pain in my neck and back if I am sitting and or standing for just a few hours. Puts tons of pressure on both. I just can't see myself in just 3 weeks being able to sit at my desk for 10 hours. Hope I am wrong. Just hope the entire area gets stronger cause it feels pretty darn weak
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennybyc View Post
Just to clarify the info for you, the facet joints are very small areas on the backside of the vertebrae that attach above and below to the other vertebrae and they help you with twisting motions. It is not the main joint surface of the vertebra. Arthritis of these joints is really, really common. And they aren't affected by this fracture. That is in a different area.

The fracture is at the main joint surface but it didn't get displaced(moved out of alignment from where it was originally). So the broken piece will just heal back together. It's more like a chip of the bone than a through and through fracture.Think of breaking a bone in your leg and it looks on x-rays like a clear line...nothing moved out of place....like someone drew a line across it...that is what you have. No need to move it back into place or pin it in place and it hasn't shifted to cause a problem with your spinal cord or spinal nerves. It is the best possible fracture you can get. All it has to do is heal in place.

I had a similar fracture in my wrist and all I had to do was wear a splint for 10 days.

As for not wearing the neck brace at night, that should be okay as it will allow your muscles to work and not atrophy......a big problem with those braces. The pressure of your head is off the neck vertebrae so it's okay. When up, the pressure of your head is there so you need to control movement until the fracture starts to heal. I had x-rays done 3 weeks after my fractures and the bones were healing nicely at that point. Which is good because I fell backwards in the kitchen and hit my head on the fridge. Neck was fine. Yours should be too.

What this injury may do however is cause the arthritis that is already in your neck, to spread and speed up. So in the future, report any and all pain you have in your neck so it is covered by WC in the future.

If you read some of the injuries people have had here, you'll find that you were the lucky one when it comes to neck injuries. Yours should heal well, without surgery and might never give you any trouble at all.

I know as a cop you have a very tough job and need to be in great condition but really, I think you'll do fine. I'd kill for your neck! Mine is held together by 8"titanium rods and 20 screws all the way down to my shoulders.

But do as the docs tell you so you have a good WC claim down the road should you need it. But I bet you never do.

Thanks for protecting us.....................Jenny

PS. the slight scoliosis or torticollis that they saw was probably something you were born with...a slight twisting or curving of the neck vertebrae. It was there before and after so it was probably a congenital thing.

 
Old 03-19-2011, 07:51 AM   #8
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

A few more weird tidbits. I am waking upeveryday with extreme pain and tenderness in my left ear. It stays that way for a few hours after i wake up. Also my teeth kill me but not sure if I grind my teeth while sleeping on my back, I sleep on my stomach but can't with the injury. Any ideas?

 
Old 03-19-2011, 08:27 AM   #9
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

The ear and the teeth are probably connected. Clenching your jaw while asleep or even grinding your teeth while sleeping will make those muscles around the ears very sore. You have a very stressful job and now you are injured so I imagine your stress level has gone way up. As for not being able to sleep on your stomach(I do too)get yourself one of those pillows for people who snore(goes down in the middle to make you arch your neck). You can't sleep on your stomach with those...that is what I did. Now I have a special pillow for sleeping on my side($20) and it is great. I HATE sleeping on my back but I have gotten used to sleeping on my side.

As to pressure on the fractured area, pressure actually helps the bone heal once it has started. Gone are the days of no weight bearing for weeks on end. That produced bone that healed but was weak. Now they want pressure as it produces a much stronger bone at the break site. You know, when the replace knees and hips, they remove the ends of the bones....in effect, breaking both bones in the leg or the femur in the hip.....and they have you standing up within 24 hours after surgery to make the new bone that is already forming, as strong as possible. Weight bearing is good!

So with your neck, they will give it 3 weeks to heal in place and then let you but as much weight on it as you can take to make it strong.

Will you hurt when you go back to work? YES! If the force of the impact was enough to chip a vertebra, then it probably also caused some muscle strain...whiplash.....and that hurts. Muscles can take weeks even months to heal and stop hurting. My son was hit while at a standstill on the Mass Pike by a woman on a cell phone going 75mph. Took months for his neck muscles to stop hurting. Had muscle spasms for weeks. You may be the same. Ask about working part-time for a couple of weeks when you go back.

Ask your doc about getting physical therapy. They can do massage and deep heating of the area to help everything heal faster and then strengthen the neck and upper body muscles to help you protect your neck. I am a big proponent of PT as without it, I'd be in a wheelchair and not running after my grandchildren. Exercise can get rid of the pain so I love it. I am fused from C3 to T1 and I take NO pain meds as I'm not in chronic pain like a lot of people are. If I hurt, I exercise or head back to PT to find out which muscles are weak and then strengthen them. My son found it very helpful after his accident.

I'm here for any questions you have but let me tell you, time is the biggest help of all. You are only 6 days out from this and it will get a lot better and pretty quickly, I think.

hugs.............Jenny

 
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:05 AM   #10
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Thanks for the time. I fear arthritis will happen quicker because of this and working in law enforcement, that scares me as that is not an area I need problems at if I am fighting someone

 
Old 03-20-2011, 01:59 AM   #11
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Hope someone can chime in on this. Woke up at 3 am with severe pain in what feels like the molar area on my lower right. All my teeth have been hurting when I wake up the last several days since the accident. I ruled out the brace and grinding my teeth last night. Did a quick search and see that tmj problems are common with whiplash and cervical injuries,p. Does anyone think this might be what is hurting me? Again, only happens while sleeping ( sleeping on my back for the first time with this neck fracture)

 
Old 03-20-2011, 02:29 AM   #12
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Just in 30 minutes or so after waking up, this pain has mostly gone away. Yesterday woke up with same pain in all my teeth and it went away fairly quickly when I woke up.what the heck is going on? This has to be a result of my cervical fracture

 
Old 04-07-2011, 12:43 PM   #13
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Started PT today. My right side is my dominant side and is considerably weaker than my left as we started today. The break on my neck was on my left side. I have felt some pin ***** sensations in my right hand recently. Is any of this normal at this stage?

 
Old 04-07-2011, 01:01 PM   #14
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Hi Mouseofzen...glad to see you reporting back to us. I've wondered how you've been.

It's really hard to say what is happening with a neck fracture. The worst of my 3 was on the left and yet, I was dragging my right leg and could hardly use the right hand. After my surgery, it was all on the left side. Now the right is acting up again as I fell 5 weeks ago and I think I bruised the side opposing where I now have a problem.

Everyone is different and no one knows just how much abuse your spinal cord took in that accident. It may have nothing to do with the fracture but more from a bruising of the cord from impact. If that piece of broken bone hit your cord on contact, it will all depend on where the nerves to the lower part of your body are, within the cord. Think of the cord as a bundle of wires all wrapped up and twisted together so you don't know where is what. Your right sided nerves in your cord, could be on the left side of your spinal cord. Now way to know or test. It's just a giant bundle of nerves.

Anyhow, it takes time and luckily(as if any of this is lucky) since you are on WC, you can get all the PT you need. Those of us on insurance usually have limitations and have to stop way to soon. Even Medicare caps the dollar amount on PT.

Get as much PT as you can...it does work. Took 9 months for me to get back any use of my paralyzed left arm but it came back. I'm still working on getting it stronger. I can pick up my 35 pound granddaughter but I can't hold her for more than 30 seconds. I want to hold my new grandson-to-be, longer.

Keep us informed as to how you do.

Great to hear form you.

hugs........Jenny

 
Old 04-07-2011, 01:39 PM   #15
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Re: Fracture/break in c7

Thank you! Would a MRI show anything? My concern is I will be released to go back to work when bone heals. But what about the odd feelings in my fingers and hands? Can that be tested? If not, what are my options at that point?

 
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