Spinal Fractures differ from broken legs or broken arms. A fracture of dislocation of a vertebra can trigger bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most spinal fractures occur from events such as car accidents, gunshots, falls or sports. Injuries can range from comparatively mild ligament and muscle strains. To dislocations and fractures of the bony vertebrae, as well as debilitating spinal cord damage. Depending on how severe your injury is you may experience pain, difficulty walking or running, or unable to move your arms or legs, causing paralysis. Multiple fractures heal with conservative treatment: but severe fracture may require the surgical operation to realign the bones.
Spinal column and spinal cord
To understand spinal fractures, it is useful to know how the spine works. The Spine consists of 33 bones referred to as vertebrae that provide the primary support for your body, enabling you to stand upright, twist, and bend. In the middle of each vertex is a hollow space referred the spinal canal, which provides a protective space for the spinal cord. The spinal cord severed as an information conduit, relaying messages within the brain and the body. Spinal nerves section of the spinal cord, pass between the vertebrae, to innervate all components of your body.
What are Spinal fractures?
Spinal injuries can range from small or mild ligament and muscles strains, such as whiplash, to fractures and breaks of the bony vertebrae, to debilitating spinal cord injuries. Spinal fractures and dislocations can compress, pinch and even tear the spinal cord. Treatment of spinal features depends on the type of fracture and the degree of instability.
Whiplash is a well-known injury to the neck caused by rapid or hyperextension and forth motion of the head most often in a car accident. The jerking motion strains the muscle and ligament of the neck and may cause the disc to bulge. Whiplash can lead to stiff muscles, headaches or neck pain. It is critical that a physician examine the spine injury carefully. Whiplash differs than a spinal fracture or spinal cord injury and the symptoms usually, improve with conservation treatment.
Spinal instability is excessive motion between vertebrae triggered by stretched or torn ligament and broken bone. Irregular slipping and rubbing motions can cause pain and damage the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Stable fractures can usually be handled with bracing and rest. Unstable fractures frequently require surgery to realign the bones and prevent spinal cord or nerve injury.
Fractures can occur anywhere along the spine. 5 to 10 percent occur in the cervical (neck) region. Sixty-four percent happen in the thoracolumbar (low back) region, Often at T12-L1.
There are numerous classifications for fracture. Overall spine fracture falls into three segments.
Fractures when more force is put on a bone than it can it will break. The most common type of spin feature is a vertebral body compression fracture. Sudden descending force shatters and collapses the body of the vertebrae. If the force is sufficient enough, It may send bone fragments into the spinal canal, called a burst fracture.
Individuals affected by osteoporosis, tumors and certain forms of cancer that weakened bone are prone to vertebral compression fractures (VCF). The feature appears as a wedge-shaped collapse of the vertebra. Multiple VCFs can cause a forward hunch of the spine called kyphosis.
Dislocations when the ligaments and disc connecting two vertebrae together are torn or stretched, the bones may come out of alignment. An example is when the rapid forward motion for the upper body against a seat belt pulls apart the vertebra and stretches the largest. A dislocated vertebra can cause instability and spinal cord compression. They usually require a brace or even stabilization surgery.
Fracture-dislocations: Occurs when bone is broken, and the ligaments are torn. These fractures normally are unstable and tend to be very debilitating and are often surgically repaired.
What are the symptoms of a Spinal fracture
Symptoms of a spinal fracture vary depending on severity and location of the injury. They include the back of neck or pain, muscle spasm, tingling, numbness, bowel/bladder changes, weakness, and paralysis. Paralysis is a loss of mobility in the arms of legs and may indicate a spinal cord injury. Not all fractures produce spinal cord injury and seldom is the spinal cord entirely severed.
What are the causes?
Car accidents (45%), falls (20%), sports(15%) acts of violence (15%). Moreover, diverse activities (5%) are the primary causes of spinal fractures. Disease such as osteoporosis and spine tumors also contribute to fractures,
How are Spinal Fractures Diagnosed?
In the majority of cases of a spinal injury, paramedics will take the patient to the emergency room (ER). The doctor, (likely an Emergency Medicine specialist who is a member of the trauma team)will see the patient insides the ER. Depending on how serious the inures are, other professionals may be called in to evaluate the condition. The doctors will assess the breathing and perform a physical examination of the spine. The spine is kept inside a neck or back brace until the diagnostics test is completed.
X-ray test use X-rays to take images of the bony vertebrae in the spine and can tell your doctor if any bones show features. Necessary flexion and extension x-rays may be taken to detect any abnormal movement.
CT scan computed tomography is a safe scene, noninvasive test that uses an X-ray beam a computer to make 2-dimensional pictures of your spine. It may or may not be implemented with a dye (contrast agent) injected into your bloodstream. It is especially useful for view changes in bony structure.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) scan is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and radio frequency waves to give a distilled view of the soft tissues of your spine. Unlike an X-ray, nerves and disc are clearly visible IT may or may not performed with da dye (contrast agent) injected into your bloodstream. MRI is useful in evaluating soft tissue damage to the ligaments and disc and assessing spinal cord injury.
What treatments are available?
Treatments of a fracture begin with pain management and stabilization to prevent further injury. Other body injuries may be present and need treatment as well. Depending on the type of feature and it is stability, bracing, and surgery may be needed.
Braces & Orthotics do three things. 1) supports spinal alignment. 2) symbolizes your spine during healing and 3) controls pain by restricting movement. Stable fractures may only require stabilization with a brace, such as a rigor collar for cervical fractures, a cervical, thoracic brace (Minerva) for upper back fracture, or a thoracolumbar sacral orthosis (TLSO) for lower back fractures. Following 8 to 12 weeks the brace is taken off. Unstable neck fractures or dislocations may require traction to realign the spine into it is the correct position. A Halo ring and vest brace can be necessary.
Instrumentation & Fusion are surgical methods to treat unstable fractures. Fusion is the joining fo tow vertebrae with a bone graft held together with components such as plates, hooks, rods, cages, pedicle or screws. The/goal of the bone graft is to connect the vertebrae above and below to form one solid section of bone. It may take several months of longer to create a solid fusion.
Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures performed to treat compression fractures commonly caused by osteoporosis and spinal tumors. In vertebroplasty, bone cement is inserted through a hollow needle into the fractured vertebral body. In kyphoplasty, a balloon is first inserted and into expand the compressed vertebra before filling the space with bone cement.