A spinal fracture is a break in one or more of your vertebral bones. The spine consists of 33 vertebrae that make up the spinal column and enclose and protect the spinal cord and nerves. The roots of the spinal nerves exit from the vertebrae so a vertebral fracture can damage the spinal cord, nerve roots, and nerves. A spine fracture can be an extremely serious problem that requires immediate medical attention. This is because a spinal fracture can rapidly lead to spinal cord damage, paralysis, and even death.
Causes of Spinal Fracture
Spinal fractures are usually caused by extreme physical injury or trauma, such as a fall or a car accident.
Osteoporosis increase the risk of a spinal fracture because it causes a decrease in bone density or mass, which weakens the bones.
Symptoms of Spinal Fracture
If one or more vertebrae has been fractured, it may cause the following symptoms in various parts of your body:
- Severe and constant pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Weakness or limited mobility
- Paralysis of arms, legs, or other body parts
In many cases, a spinal fracture is not subtle and resulted from a traumatic event, probably required immediate medical attention. On the other hand, degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis may cause fractures that follow only minor trauma. If the spinal cord is injured or compromised because of the fracture, it may cause a loss of feeling or limited strength below the area where the injury occurred. It is important to seek prompt, expert medical attention if you suspect this has happened.
Diagnosing a Spinal Fracture
A traumatic spinal fracture should be evaluated at a hospital as soon as possible, but only after the spine has been stabilized. Diagnostic studies include X-rays, CT scans, and possibly an MRI of the spine.
Spinal Fracture Treatment
The primary treatment for spinal fracture is to immobilize the spine. If the spine is allowed to move, the fractured area could irreparably damage the spinal cord or nerves, causing severe neurological dysfunction or paralysis. This may be achieved through special back and neck braces (i.e., halo-vest) or the application of metal pins into the spine. While every patient’s situation is different, definitive treatment for a spinal fracture often includes surgical stabilization. Dr. Rovner will discuss long-term treatment options for spinal fracture, including the risks and benefits of each treatment approach. Physical therapy may also be a component of treatment, usually occurring after surgery. The experts at Progressive Spine & Orthopaedics would be pleased to explain and discuss your options for spinal fracture treatment.