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Posted on 3rd July 2017

Broken Neck Misdiagnosed As Muscle Damage

Hospital staff at Southampton General Hospital diagnosed muscle damage after reviewing a man’s X-rays which later turned out to be a broken neck.

The 40 year old man was celebrating his daughter’s birthday by having a party at a sports centre. Whilst on a bouncy castle the man slipped when performing a summersault. He said “I was in more agony than I’ve ever felt in my life”

He attended the hospital in Southampton where the incorrect diagnosis was made. Two consultants reviewed the x-rays and diagnosed muscle damage, the man was sent home despite not being able to walk because of the pain.

For the next 15 days, the man was in bed just getting up every 30 minutes to do the exercises the consultants had given him to do. On February 20th, the man received a telephone call from a hospital consultant. The worried consultant questioned the man as to the amount of movement he had done.

The consultant then advised that the X-rays had been reviewed and the man had not damaged his muscles, he had actually severely broken his back. He was advised to go to hospital immediately and limit the amount of movement he made because there was a risk he could do more damage and even paralyse himself.

Back at the hospital, he was placed on a specialist orthopaedic bed and told to lie absolutely still. He underwent a series of CT scans and a MRI scan and was told by a specialist spinal consultant that there was a real danger of a sharp bone severing his spinal cord.

 He was treat with a spinal fusion where the hospital pinned three bones together and has been told that he will probably have chronic back pain for the rest of his life.


A&E departments across the UK regularly have people attending with broken bones. Sometimes it is difficult for A&E consultants to see a fractured bone on an X-ray because of swelling but in this case, the break will have been clear to identify.

In some instances, missing a broken bone can have significant and even life threatening consequences. It can cause complications such as a pulmonary embolism or a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). If a broken bone starts to heal but does so in an incorrect position, the bone may need to be re-broken and reset.

Misdiagnosed broken ankles and missed scaphoid fractures are common orthopaedic reasons why people enquire with us. If you think you have had a broken bone which has not been treat correctly leading to further pain or discomfort or even surgery to rectify the problems, contact us on 0330 355 9210 or for a free claim assessment