The human spine is made up of 33 vertebrae, which protect and enclose the spinal nerves as well as the spinal cord. A spinal fracture is a break in one or more of the vertebral bones, and it can be very serious. Depending on the size and severity of the fracture, it could lead to damage of the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Even a small spinal fracture can cause severe damage to the spinal cord, as well as paralysis and even death.
Causes & Symptoms
A spinal fracture is very different from an arm or leg fracture, because if it is not properly treated, it can lead to nerve damage and even paralysis. The most common cause for spinal fractures is trauma or injury, such as a car accident or a fall. Another common cause for spinal fractures that isn’t quite so immediate is osteoporosis. Progressive degeneration of the bones and joints in the spine can weaken it to the point that even the slightest trauma causes a fracture. Some of the most common symptoms associated with spinal fractures include:
- Severe and constant back/neck pain
- Tingling or loss of sensation
- Weakness in the limbs or limited mobility
- Paralysis in the arms, legs, or other body parts
If you experience any of these symptoms, especially following some sort of trauma, you need to seek immediate medical attention. If you don’t have your spine stabilized right away it could lead to further damage, which may then become irreparable. If you have experienced serious physical trauma, do not wait for an appointment with your doctor—head to the nearest emergency room.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
Because spinal fractures have the potential to be so serious, you should seek immediate medical attention at the very first sign. Stabilization of the spine is the most important step in treatment, and it must be established before further testing or treatment can begin. In order to assess the severity of the fracture, x-rays, CT scans, and possibly even MRI scans may need to be taken. Once the diagnosis has been made, treatment can begin.
The primary method of treatment for spinal fractures is to completely immobilize the spine, thus preventing further damage. If the spine is not immobilized, even the slightest movement could cause irreparable damage to the spinal cord or spinal nerves, leaving the patient paralyzed or neurologically damaged. Spinal immobilization is usually accomplished through back and neck braces, with or without the surgical application of metal pins into the spine. Each fracture requires a different approach and a specific course of treatment.
When you come to Jersey Spine Associates for the treatment of a spinal fracture, you can count on our team to do whatever it takes to ensure a full recovery. We are experts in the field of spinal surgery, so we know how to deal with even the severest of spinal fractures and will treat your case with precision and expertise, to minimize further damage and complications so you can be on your way to recovery.