Spinal Fracture

A spinal fracture is one or more broken vertebrae in the spine that commonly results from high-energy trauma. The most common fractures of the spine occur in the mid-back (thoracic) or lumbar (lower) spine, or at the connection of the two regions.

Fractures of the spine typically stem from intense accidents or trauma, such as a vehicle crash, gunshot wound, sports injury or a fall from height. Because of the high-level of energy associated with the trauma, spinal fractures often have accompanying injuries, including spinal cord injury.

Individuals with weakened bone function (osteoporosis), tumors or other bone-weakening disorders also are at risk for spinal fractures.

Common symptoms of spinal fractures include moderate to severe back pain that is made worse by movement. Associated injury to the spinal cord may also present as numbness, tingling, weakness or bowel and/or bladder dysfunction.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as well as neurological tests to evaluate a patient’s ability to sense movement in their limbs, are typically used to diagnose spinal fractures. Treatments include stabilization in a brace or cast or surgery to stabilize the fracture.

Resource: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

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