Protecting Your Neck From a Cervical Fracture
A cervical fracture (also known as a broken neck,) is a serious affair. The good news is that taking cervical fracture precautions is largely a matter of making simple lifestyle changes. Here are 10 cervical fracture precautions you might consider turning into daily habits.
Falls are the leading cause of injury, including fractures, in people over 65, and the risk of falling increases as you age.
But by making a few simple changes in your lifestyle, you may be able to prevent falls. Here are a couple of (fairly) easy-to-implement tips:
· Remove clutter and throw rugs so you don't trip on them.
· Exercise regularly to develop your balance.
· Studies have shown that tai chi can be effective in preventing falls in the elderly.
Develop Your Bone Density
Most spine experts agree that osteoporosis raises your risk for microfractures in the cervical vertebrae. This is because osteoporotic bone tissue is fragile and easily broken.
Ways to build bone mineral density include getting enough vitamin D and calcium, as discussed below, and engaging in regular weight-bearing exercise sessions, such as strength training.
Take Vitamin D With Calcium
The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center say that vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough of it, they say, you won't be able to form an important hormone called calcitriol, which is the substance responsible for calcium absorption, and therefore, strong bones. (When the body can't absorb the calcium you take via food and/or supplements, it will extract it from your bones, weakening them. Not something you need if you have or are trying to prevent osteopenia or osteoporosis.)
The Resource Center tells us there are three ways to get vitamin D:
· Through the skin
· From the diet
· From supplements
Don't Forget Your Calcium
The Center also has recommendations for how much calcium to take. For adults up to 50 years old, plus males up to 70, it's 1000 mg. For females, it's 1200 mg.
If you're pregnant or lactating, it's also 1000 mg except if you are between the ages of 14 and 18, in which case the recommended dose is 1300 mg.
Regularly Exercise Your Neck Muscles
Degenerative changes in the spine are inevitable for nearly everyone; this is because most of the time, they are age-related.
To help maintain your neck health, consider engaging in and maintaining a regular strength and flexibility exercise routine for your neck, shoulders, upper back, and abdominal muscles. One or two visits with a licensed physical therapist can help get you started.
Fasten Your Seat Belt
Buckle up! We all know that "wearing seat belts saves lives." It may just protect you from damage to your neck, as well.
Motor vehicle accidents are associated with cervical spine injury according to a large 2012 study published in the journal Injury.
Mind Your Speed
The same Canadian C-Spine Rule Study Group mentioned above found that the faster a car was going when it crashed, the more likely the passengers were to sustain a neck fracture.
Wear a Helmet
If you love the feeling of the breeze whipping through your hair when you're on the road, you may or may not like what we're going to say.
Most people are aware that a good helmet worn correctly will likely protect from serious (or even fatal) head and/or facial injuries should the unthinkable happen while you're cycling. For this reason, helmets are a highly recommended preventative measure.
But when it comes to preventing cervical spine injuries such as fractures, dislocation, etc, the research is not so clear. The same study mentioned above-found neck injury due to a cycling accident was rare and not associated with helmet use.
The upshot of the research (in combination with common sense) is that while wearing a helmet might not keep you from breaking one or more bones in your neck, it is still an excellent idea.
Watch Your Water Depth
Diving headfirst into shallow water is a sure way to cause a serious neck fracture. The New York State Department of Health found that 90 percent of spinal cord injuries due to diving accidents were into bodies of water of six feet or less.
Don't Block or Hit With Your Head
Do you or a loved one play contact sports? If so (and although it may be tempting,) it's not a good idea to block or hit with the head, even if you wear a helmet. Doing so puts a lot of force on your neck, and the results in some cases may be catastrophic.
If you play contact sports, be the smartie on your team and avoid using this potentially fatal technique.
Neck fractures can be caused by violence, much of which occurs in the home or between people who have an existing personal relationship.
Violence affects people of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
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