Your doctor will conduct a physical examination asking you about where you feel pain, loss of sensation or difficulty moving. An X-ray will show most broken vertebrae but other imaging technology may be necessary to show hard-to-see fractures. These may include MRI and CT scans, or further X-rays where you are asked to bend your neck forward and backward (dynamic or flexion-extension views). About 5 percent of spinal injuries have a second fracture either adjacent to the main fracture or elsewhere on the spine. You may be asked to restrict activity or wear a brace until additional studies can be obtained.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.