Spinal injuries can range from as mild as a minor whiplash, to as serious as a spinal cord trauma. Spinal fractures are one type of spinal injury which can benign as a simple compression fracture or as serious as a “burst fracture” or other complex fracture which can the spinal cord or nerve roots. Sometimes, spine fractures can lead to paralysis if not treated in the proper manner.
Spinal fractures can be caused from a wide number of activities and injuries. The most common cause is osteoporosis in the elderly population. Spine fractures in younger patients can be caused by car accidents, big falls, sports, and acts of violence. Men are four times more likely to fracture their back, while the age group most affected by this is those between the ages of 18-25.
Common symptoms of a spine fracture include, but are not limited to, back or neck pain, numbness, tingling, muscle spasm, weakness, and bowel/bladder changes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s very important that you see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will treat you after either taking X-rays, CT scan, or an MRI on your back or neck.
There are several ways to treat spine fractures, both surgically and non-surgically. Braces, orthotics, and pain medications are all common non-surgical remedies to treating a spinal fracture. Some surgical procedures that help treat spinal fractures are spinal instrumentation and fusion, and kyphoplasty.
In order to prevent another spinal fracture in the future, it’s important to take a few steps to ensure your safety. If recommended by your primary care doctor, start taking calcium supplements and vitamin D at first in order to strengthen your bones. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking greatly increases your chances of not reinjuring your back, as well as engaging in strength-building exercises.
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