Recognising serious neck injury

Trying to tell a serious injury from a minor injury can be very difficult. Anyone who is knocked out cannot tell if they have neck pain or weakness and so must be regarded as having a serious spinal injury until proven otherwise. They should be managed with manual in-line stabilisation (MILS) to protect further movement of the head and neck.

If the casualty has neck pain, and reports they cannot feel or move their legs, then the injury is obvious. However, anyone with an injury above the collarbone should make you think about whether this could potentially be a serious neck injury and if you are unsure, the safest approach is to manage as if there has been a spinal injury.

Who should be treated as having a serious neck injury?

  1. Anyone who is unconscious.
  2. Anyone with an injury above the collarbone.
  3. Anyone who has a pain in the neck.
  4. Anyone who has loss of movement in the arms or legs and/or difficulty breathing.
  5. Anyone you are unsure about!