Everything You Need to Know About Spinal Fractures

Spinal fractures can be a painful and even life-changing experience. As a skilled spine surgeon, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, treats all types of spine conditions, including spinal fractures. Dr. Bo offers some insight into what causes spinal fractures, how to treat them, and what you should do to avoid a fracture.

An overview of spinal fractures

Spinal fractures can occur anywhere along your spine, most often in the lower back. Typically, a spinal fracture occurs when more pressure is placed on the bones than your spine can withstand, and it causes a break.

The most common type of spine fracture is a vertebral compression fracture caused by a sudden downward force that collapses the vertebrae. A strong enough force can allow bone fragments to spread out into your spinal canal.

Many spinal fractures are the result of osteoporosis, a condition where your bones lose density and strength. Osteoporosis is common with aging and can leave the bones of your spine weak enough to become susceptible to vertebral compression fractures with even slight pressure.

You may also be at increased risk for spinal fractures due to trauma from:

There are also risks for spine fractures due to underlying spinal tumors.

Signs you may have a spinal fracture

The symptoms of a spinal fracture can range from mild aches to severe back pain. Depending on the severity of the fracture and its location in your spine, you may experience weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arms and legs if the fractured vertebrae presses on nearby nerves. Muscle spasms are also a common side effect of a spinal fracture.

In some cases, the spinal fracture can be serious enough to cause changes in your bowel or bladder function. If the injury affects your spinal cord, you may have paralysis and find it difficult or impossible to move parts of your body.

Because symptoms of a spinal fracture can worsen without treatment, it’s important that you schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Bo without delay. He uses the latest diagnostic imaging tests, like X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans to evaluate the location and severity of your fracture, so he can offer the right treatment.

Treatment options for spinal fractures

Not all spinal fractures require surgery. In fact, you may be able to treat a minor spine fracture by using braces to stabilize your spine and allow your own healing processes to take over.

When surgery is necessary to repair a fracture, Dr. Bo may perform minimally invasive procedures like vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty involves injections of a special bone cement into the fracture through a hollow needle. The cement hardens quickly to stabilize your spine and relieve compression on surrounding nerves.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is a treatment that uses a small balloon to expand a collapsed vertebra. Using a needle to insert the balloon into your spine, Dr. Bo then inflates the balloon to widen the space before deflating and removing it. Bone cement fills the space to provide support and stability for your spine.

If you have instability in your spine because of a fracture, or if your pain and other symptoms are interfering with your quality of life, Dr. Bo may recommend a spinal fusion surgery. This type of surgery joins two or more of your vertebrae together with plates, screws, or other medically safe devices. Over time, the fusion causes the vertebrae to fuse together into one solid piece of bone.

To learn more about available spine surgeries and other treatments for spinal fractures, call The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office nearest you or request an appointment with Dr. Bo online today.

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