A Spinal Fracture is one or more fractures that occur to a spinal vertebra. There are two separate causes of Spinal Fractures. The first is an injury event with traumatic forces applied to the spine such as a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall or blunt trauma. An impact from any of these forces can create an extreme directional force on the spinal vertebrae resulting in the creation of a fracture or tear in the ligaments holding the spinal vertebra together. In the instance of an traumatic injury, symptoms can appear immediately or in some cases gradually over time with continuous trauma as a result of the instability.
The second cause of Spinal Fractures is the weakening of the spinal vertebrae, known as Osteoporosis. As we age our bones begin to lose the essential calcium needed for bone strength causing them to become more porous. This is especially true in women after menopause, but can occur in both men and women of all ages. As these bones become structurally weakened they become more brittle and prone to fracture. Osteoporosis of the spine tends to occur in older patients, however certain genetic and environmental factors can expedite the osteoporotic processes and symptoms can appear in younger patients as well. Those with preexisting bone density conditions may be more prone to Spinal Osteoporosis. A DEXA scan is a test that can screen for the risk of an osteoporotic spinal fracture.
Spinal Fractures can occur in the cervical or lumbar spine but are most common in the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Spinal Fracture symptoms can include:
- Sudden onset of back or neck pain
- Pain that progressive over time
- Pain that radiates into the extremities
- Localized paralysis