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What is a Hangman’s Fracture?

November 29, 2022 Personal Injury Blog

The impact of a car crash can cause serious damage to your body. The severity of your injuries will depend on different factors including whether you were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the impact, the side of your vehicle that was hit, the speed at which your car was hit, and whether your airbags deployed. Head and neck injuries are some of the most common car accident injuries, just ask our accident attorneys in San Diego. A hangman’s fracture is a neck injury that can be very serious.

Hangman Fracture

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The human vertebra is a system of bones that surround the spinal cord from the skull down to the lower back. The C2 is the second bone down from the skull in cervical vertebrae. A hangman fracture is a break in the vertebra of your neck called the C2. A fracture can be a partial or complete break in the C2, and it may cause the C2 to move out of alignment with the surrounding bones. A hangman’s fracture may also render the entire cervical spine unstable, which can result in deformity or progressive pain. 

Symptoms of a Hangman’s Fracture

Neck pain following a fall or car accident is the most common symptom of a hangman’s fracture. If a person is experiencing pain in other parts of the body, they may ignore the pain in their neck or consider it part of the general pain they are experiencing. A hangman’s fracture may also affect the nerves, resulting in symptoms such as sensory loss, weakness, or paralysis. A hangman’s fracture may also cause damage to nerves affecting your lungs, and making it difficult to breathe.

How is a Hangman Fracture Diagnosed?

If you are taken to the hospital after a car crash, a hangman’s fracture is often found as part of your patient evaluation. Symptoms like pain, numbness, or difficulty breathing can be the first signs, but the diagnosis is confirmed using procedures such as X-rays and MRIs.

A standard X-ray can reveal any bone damage, misalignment, or dislocation. A CT scan, which uses X-rays and computer technology may also be used to produce more detailed images of the bone to reveal damage that may not be visible on an X-ray. While X-rays and CT scans can reveal the condition of the bones and a fracture, they do not help with assessing the nerves and other soft tissue. An MRI, uses strong magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to create detailed images of the parts of the body that an X-ray or CT scan cannot capture. 

Treatment and Recovery

There are several treatment options available for a hangman’s fracture. The main goal of any treatment is to protect the spinal cord and restore its alignment and stability. The choice of options will depend on the severity of the patient’s hangman fracture.

Non-surgical treatment options involve demobilizing the neck so that the fracture can heal. This can be achieved with a neck collar or a halo vest. For more serious fractures, surgical intervention is often necessary to realign the bones and stabilize them using surgical hardware including screws, wires, rods, or plates. Although most patients treated with non-surgical procedures will make a full recovery, if the bone does not heal correctly or achieve stability, surgery may be necessary.

Although a patient may need to adjust some of their activities during the recovery period to avoid destabilizing the head and neck, most patients make a full recovery within a year.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?

If your injury was the result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages you suffer. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The trusted San Diego personal injury lawyers at CaseyGerry can help you understand your legal entitlements and protect your interests against the defendant.

If you have suffered a hangman’s fracture because of another person’s negligence, call CaseyGerry today to schedule a free consultation with one of our passionate San Diego personal injury lawyers.