Spinal fractures occur when the vertebrae become dislocated or broken anywhere along the spine. Basic spine fractures vary in severity and are commonly the result of trauma from high-velocity impact such as motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls.
FAQs About Spine Fractures
Continue reading below to learn more about spine fractures or click on one of these links to go directly to the information you are interested in.
What are the types of spine fractures?
There are three common types of spinal fractures: compression, burst, and chance fractures. Compression fractures are small breaks in the vertebrae and are often caused by a loss of bone mass, a condition known as osteoporosis.
Burst fractures occur when the vertebra breaks in multiple directions. This type of fracture usually results from significant trauma such as in a car accident or severe fall.
Less common are chance fractures, which occur from excessive bending of the spine. This type of fracture is often the result of motor vehicle accidents in which the abdomen is injured.
What are the common symptoms of a spine fracture?
Basic spine fracture symptoms vary based on severity; however, the most commonly reported symptom is moderate to severe pain in the back that increases with movement. Spinal fractures also may cause:
- Pain in the upper back or neck
- Weakness or paralysis of arms or legs
- Tingling or numbness
- Muscle spasms
- Changes in bladder/bowel control
How is a spine fracture diagnosed?
Diagnosing a spine fracture begins with your Denver spine surgeon conducting a physical examination and diagnostic tests that may include X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI scan. Imaging tests help your spine surgeon determine the location and severity of your spine fracture. Your neurosurgeon may conduct a CT or MRI scan if he/she needs to see the spine in greater detail. Your Denver spine surgeon also may order a DEXA scan to identify bone density to establish whether osteoporosis contributed to your spine fracture.
How is a spine fracture treated?
Minor spine fractures usually heal without surgical treatment. Often, your spine fracture will heal naturally with a combination of over-the-counter pain medications, activity modification, and bracing to minimize motion.
Treatment for compression fractures caused by osteoporosis begin by addressing the pain, the fracture, and the cause of injury. If spine surgery such as spine fusion is recommended, our spine specialists at the Spine Fracture & Bone Health Clinic at Neurosurgery One in Littleton and Lakewood, Colorado work with you to regain and optimize bone strength before and after your procedure.
Depending on the severity of your fracture and symptoms, you may benefit from the kyphoplasty procedure. Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that treats spine fractures by injecting a special cement into your vertebrae and creating space in the compressed area with a balloon that expands your vertebrae to its normal height. A newer procedure, spine jack kyphoplasty, may also be an effective treatment for some compression fractures that helps restore any lost height resulting from the compression of the vertebrae.
How do I prevent spine fractures?
Improving your bone health is an important part of preventing future spine fractures. Our staff at Neurosurgery One’s Spine Fracture & Bone Health Clinic work with you to create a lifestyle and medication plan that helps build healthier and stronger bones, which helps prevent fractures of the spine.