What are Spinal Fractures?
A spinal fracture is a dislocation of a vertebra that can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most fractures occur from car accidents, falls, or sports. Fractural injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains to dislocations of the bony vertebrae and debilitating spinal cord damage.
There are two main symptoms associated with fractures: whiplash and spinal instability. Whiplash is a common injury to the neck caused by hyperextension or a rapid “back and forth” head motion, most often the result of a car accident.
The jerking motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck causing the discs to bulge. Whiplash can lead to headaches, stiff muscles and neck pain and can usually be relieved with conservative treatment plans such as “bracing” and rest.
Spinal instability is the second type of symptom common to fractures and is characterized by the excessive motion between vertebrae caused by stretched or torn ligaments and broken bone. This abnormal slipping and rubbing motion is painful and can damage the spinal cord and nerves. Unstable fractures like these usually require surgery to realign bones and prevent further spinal cord or nerve injury.
How are Fractures Diagnosed?
Typically a fracture is diagnosed if the patient is seeking treatment from symptoms of whiplash. A CT Scan or MRI of the bony vertebrae in your spine will show any fractures. Special flexion and extension x-rays may be taken to detect any abnormal movement.
Fracture Treatment Options
At Spine Centers of America we take both surgical and non-surgical approaches to healing and will devise a treatment plan tailored specifically for you. We have a “patient first” mentality that has your best interest and wellness in mind. However, since your treatment involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified spine surgeon performs the procedure.
Treatment of a fracture begins with pain management and stabilization to prevent further injury. A brace can maintain spinal alignment, immobilize your spine during healing and help control pain by restricting movement. Stable fractures may only require stabilization with a brace, such as a rigid collar. Unstable neck fractures or dislocations may require traction to realign the spine into its correct position. A halo ring and vest brace may be required.
If necessary, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive fusion procedures that can treat an unstable fracture caused by osteoporosis or spinal tumors. The goal with this type of surgery is to join the vertebrae above and below to form one solid piece of bone. With vertebroplasty, bone cement is injected through a hollow needle into the fractured vertebral body. In kyphoplasty, a balloon is first inserted and inflated to expand the compressed vertebra before filling the space with bone cement.
These types of minimally invasive surgeries have a high success rate and boast quick recovery times, among their many advantages. Our board certified spine surgeons perform with the open or endoscopic method depending on the nature and severity of your condition.
If you’d like more information about this spine condition, feel free to contact us at 877-722-6008 to speak with a back specialist today.
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