Anywhere along the spine might experience a vertebrae fractures, which is a dislocation or fracture of the vertebrae (backbone). The majority of spinal fractures are brought on by trauma or injury from falls, sports, vehicle accidents, or other high-velocity impacts. These mishaps can result in a variety of injuries, from minor sprains and tears to more severe fractures and spinal cord injury. While rest and medicine can cure minor spine fractures, more serious fractures may need surgery to straighten the bones. Spinal fractures can result in paralysis, irreversible damage to the spinal cord, and damaged nerves if ignored.
What is vertebrae fracture?
Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) happen when the bone block or vertebral body in the spine collapses, causing significant pain, deformity, and height loss. These fractures are more prevalent in the thoracic spine (the middle section of the spine), particularly the lower region.
Types of vertebrae fracture
A spine fracture is classified by a healthcare expert depending on where it is in your back and how your vertebrae are damaged. They’ll also determine if the fracture is stable or unstable based on whether your vertebrae are out of position.
The most common types of vertebrae fractures include:
Compression fractures are tiny breaks or cracks in your vertebrae caused by trauma or that develop over time due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones, making them more prone to fractures that occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Undiagnosed osteoporosis-related spinal compression might lead you to lose several inches in height or develop a slumped forward posture (kyphosis).
Burst fractures occur when your spine is abruptly squeezed by a powerful force. They might cause your vertebrae to fracture into several fragments.
Chance (flexion/distraction) factures
Chance fractures occur when your vertebrae are unexpectedly forced apart. They’re almost the inverse of a burst fracture.
Chance fractures vs burst fractures
Spinal fractures can be of two types: chance fractures and burst fractures. The distinction is in what causes them.
Burst fractures are caused by a tremendous force abruptly pressing your spine together. This tremendous compression on your vertebrae has the potential to shatter them in many locations at the same time. A typical cause of burst fractures is falling from a large height and landing erect on your feet.
A powerful force forcing your vertebrae apart from each other causes chance fractures. Chance fractures occur when something pushes your spine apart rather than compressing it. Chance fractures are common in vehicle accidents when the seatbelt snags the lower body and the upper body is pulled forward. Wear your seatbelt with the shoulder harness around the top part of your body at all times.
Stable vs unstable spine fractures
Another way a physician would define your spinal fracture is as stable or unstable. The injury that shattered your vertebrae did not push or drag them out of their normal position in your spine if you have a stable fracture. You still require therapy, but surgery is unlikely.
Unstable spinal fractures occur when an accident causes your vertebrae to shift out of their normal position. They are more dangerous than stable fractures. There is a considerably greater possibility that you will require surgery to heal your damaged vertebrae, as well as a larger risk of serious complications that can compromise your spinal cord.
Causes of a vertebrae fracture
Spinal fractures are a catastrophic orthopedic injury caused mostly by high-velocity collisions, such as:
- Accident involving a car or a motorcycle
- Drop from a great height
- Sporting mishap
- Act of violence (gunshot wound or assault)
Other conditions that might result in vertebral fractures are:
- Osteoporosis – Your bones gradually get weaker and less dense as a result of osteoporosis. Your chance of suffering various fractures is raised by your increasing fragility.
- Tumors in the spine – Your bones are under a lot of stress after trauma. Your spine often moves with you and is quite flexible. However, a rapid, strong force greater than your spine can withstand, such as from a vehicle accident or a sports injury, can result in spinal fractures.
- underlying causes of vertebral deterioration.
Symptoms of a vertebrae fracture
The degree and location of the injury influence the symptoms of a spinal fracture. Not all fractures result in a spinal cord damage, and the spinal cord is seldom entirely severed. Back discomfort that intensifies with activity is the most prevalent sign of a spinal fracture.
Many people are unaware that they have a compression fracture. This is especially true if your cracked vertebrae occur as a result of osteoporosis rather than trauma. You may not feel any pain and discover you have a compression fracture only during subsequent imaging examinations to uncover or diagnose other diseases.
Burst fractures and Chance fractures are commonly caused by trauma. If you are involved in a traumatic event such as a fall or a vehicle accident, your fractured back will be diagnosed when your injuries are treated. You may not notice any specific symptoms as a result of the fracture, especially if you are treated in an emergency hospital.
Symptoms of a spinal fracture may include:
- Back or neck discomfort
- Numbness or tingling
- Limb weakness or paralysis
- Muscle spasms that are uncontrollable
- urinary or bowel control problems
Consciousness loss caused by high-energy trauma needs prompt emergency evacuation and treatment.
Diagnosis of vertebrae fracture
A physical examination and imaging studies will help your doctor determine whether you have a spinal fracture. They will examine your back, feel for any sore or irritated regions, and note any alterations in your posture or spine’s natural curve. Tell them where you are suffering specifically and when you started experiencing any new pain or discomfort.
In the event of trauma, medical professionals in the emergency department may identify the fracture. Once you’re stabilized, they’ll determine whether you have a fracture and whether you have any additional injuries.
A spine X-ray will confirm a broken spine and indicate how far your bones are out of position.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI may be used by your provider to obtain a complete picture of your back and any damage within it. This will reveal tissue around your spine as well as your vertebrae. This is especially critical to identify if your fracture poses a risk to your spinal cord.
If you require surgery, your physician or surgeon must first determine the extent of your bone injury. A CT scan provides a more comprehensive image of your bones and surrounding tissue than an X-ray.
Treatment of vertebrae fracture
The treatment will be determined by the location and kind of fracture, as well as the degree of neurologic compression. Cervical bracing can be used to treat minor fractures. Traction, surgery, or a combination of the aforementioned may be required for more difficult fractures or fractures with spinal cord compression.
Patients with neurologic impairment or unstable fractures may benefit from surgical surgery to fix the fracture, relieve any nerve compression, and aid in healing. Non-surgical therapy is appropriate for the majority of individuals. Once the injury has healed, rehabilitation is an important aspect of the therapeutic approach. Rehabilitation helps patients to lessen pain and impairment while hoping to recover to their pre-injury functional level.
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