Lybrate Logo
Get the App
For Doctors
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Dislocation Of Cervical Vertebrae - What Should You Know?

Profile Image
Dr. Gautam R PrasadSpine and Pain Specialist • 21 Years Exp.MBBS, MS - Orthopaedics, Fellow In Spine Surgery
Topic Image

Since the neck region is the most mobile portion of the spinal column, it is also the most vulnerable to various injuries. Dislocation of cervical vertebrae is one of the most common spinal injuries. It can impact daily life and make the affected individual dependent on others. It mostly gets injured in high-impact traumatic events such as automobile accidents, falls, etc.

Such traumatic events can cause displacement of the small bones, called vertebrae, in the neck region of the spine. This can impair the ability of the brain to send signals to different areas of the body. Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of dislocation.

Types of Cervical Vertebrae Dislocation: 

● Cervical dislocations are classified according to the location of the injury.

● There are seven vertebrae in the neck region. The injury may occur in the area close to the head or further away from the head.

● The dislocation may be in the occipital-cervical region, which affects the region between the Occipital vertebra and the C2 vertebra.

● The dislocation may also be in sub axial cervical region which affects C3 to C7 vertebrae of the cervical spine.

● Dislocations are further classified according to their exact locations such as Atlanto-Occipital Dislocation, Atlantoaxial Instability etc.


● The most common causes of cervical dislocations are automobile accidents, falls, sports activities etc.

● The trauma can twist the neck in a fraction of a second and can cause rupture of ligaments holding the vertebrae. This gives rise to dislocation of vertebrae.

● One or two or more vertebrae can get displaced from the normal alignment.

● Dislocation can be severe or moderate depending on the damage to the soft tissue surrounding the specific vertebral joint.

● A severe dislocation can damage the spinal cord as well as the neurologic structure encapsulated in it. This may give rise to neurologic problem like paralysis, tremor, etc.

● However, dislocations don’t always result in neurologic problem.

Symptoms of Dislocation of Cervical Vertebrae

● The patient may have significant and localized neck pain and neck stiffness.

● Patient may also have compression of nerves resulting in weakness, tingling or numbness in the limbs.

● The impact may give rise to an asymmetric and abnormal neck and head position, known as Torticollis.

● The pain may radiate down the arm and shoulders.

● The neck region may feel tender to touch.

● There may also be spasm in the neck muscles


Severe dislocation of cervical vertebrae can result in excruciating pain and neurologic problems. One should keep in mind that such patients should not be moved at all since that may result in more damage. Only paramedics have the means and knowledge to move such persons properly. It is sometimes possible to put the vertebrae in correct alignment without any surgery. However, if such manipulation is unsuccessful, surgery is the only way to go. This should only be tried by an experienced surgeon.


Ask a free question

Get FREE multiple opinions from Doctors

posted anonymously

Book appointment with top doctors for Spine Injury treatment

View fees, clinc timings and reviews

Treatment Enquiry

Get treatment cost, find best hospital/clinics and know other details