A fracture is a serious spine injury that can cause extensive damage and severe pain. This type of trauma needs to be evaluated immediately by a spine specialist.

THE BASICS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPINE FRACTURES

  • A serious spine injury or fracture is not always apparent immediately
  • A spine fracture can (but doesn’t always) cause damage to the spinal nerves or cord
  • An immediate assessment can prevent more severe complications from developing
  • Spine fractures are often due to falls, car accidents, sports injuries or osteoporosis
  • It’s important to seek professional help after any significant trauma to the head or neck

SYMPTOMS

Some spine fractures don’t cause pain – even after a trauma or accident. As such, patients may be unaware that they have suffered an injury. That’s why a prompt evaluation is so important.

When symptoms do develop, they are dependent on the location, type and extent of your injury. The most common sign is severe, sudden pain in the area, which may also be associated with swelling.

If the fracture presses on a nerve or the spinal cord, you may also experience:

  • Numbness, tingling or weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bowel or bladder issues

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TYPES OF SPINAL FRACTURES

At Long Island Spine Specialists, the two most common spinal traumas we treat are compression fractures and chance fractures.

Here’s what you need to know about these injuries and their treatment options:


Compression Fracture

A compression fracture typically develops due to osteoporosis and other conditions that weaken the bones. The spinal cord and nerves are rarely involved. These fractures may be asymptomatic, or they can cause pain, a loss of height, and a hump in the spine.

In some cases, compression fractures may be treated non-operatively with a brace. If this approach is unsuccessful, our Long Island spine surgeons will perform kyphoplasty to reduce the fracture and stabilize the vertebrae.

To begin this minimally-invasive procedure, we will create a small incision in the area of the injury. Under X-ray guidance, we will insert a narrow tube into the fractured vertebrae and inject bone cement into the cavity. This process creates an internal cast that restores stability.

Chance Fracture

A chance fracture is commonly associated with car accidents. It develops when the body is thrust forward with great force, which places an incredible amount of stress on the spine and can result in a fracture. The main symptom of this injury is severe pain when moving.

Treatment depends on the extent of the fracture. In mild cases, bracing may be sufficient; In more severe cases where the spine is unstable or the spinal cord or posterior ligaments are involved, surgical decompression and stabilization will be necessary. During the procedure, our spine surgeons will stabilize the spine with rods and screws.

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