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Can neck injuries cause problems with breathing?

The patient may have trouble breathing if the neck injury is at the first through fifth vertebrae. This is because nerves that branch from the spinal cord at the third, fourth, and fifth levels make the diaphragm contract. The diaphragm is needed for normal breathing.

(This answer provided for NATA by the University of Alabama Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.