A spine fracture is exactly what it sounds like – a break or crack in the vertebrae that make up the spine. A fracture can occur anywhere along the spine, with most spinal fractures caused by sudden injury or trauma. These injuries can occur following a car accident, during a sport, or from a fall or similar injury. Anything that leads to a high-velocity impact can result in a spine fracture. There are many types of spine fractures, including compression fractures, axial burst fractures, and chance fractures. The symptoms you experience and treatment you receive may vary depending on the cause of your fracture, its type, and its location along your spine. At OrthoGeorgia, our board-certified spine specialists have years of experience diagnosing and treating spine fractures and similar injuries, and they are dedicated to providing each patient with the best possible care in Central GA.
What are the Symptoms of Spine Fractures?
As the spine consists of three different sections, symptoms of a spine fracture can vary depending on where the fracture has occurred. If you break a vertebra in your neck, this is considered a cervical spine fracture. A thoracic spine fracture occurs when the broken vertebra is located in the upper back, while a vertebrae fracture in the lower spine is called a lumbar spine fracture. According to the Cleveland Clinic, osteoporosis causes more than 1.5 million compression fractures of the spine in the US every year, while trauma causes over 150,000 spine fractures. General symptoms of spine fractures include:
Back pain that may be sharp and intense and can worsen over time and with movement
Swelling around the broken vertebrae
Slumping or stooped posture that was not present before the injury
Tingling, numbness or weakness in the back, arms, and legs
Diagnosing Spine Fractures at OrthoGeorgia
Spine fractures can most often be diagnosed with a combination of a physical examination and imaging tests. Your doctor will look at your back for signs of pain and tenderness and check the shape of your spine. Imaging tests for a spine fracture at OrthoGeorgia can include X-rays, MRI, and/or CT scans. X-rays are used to confirm the fracture and determine the placement of the affected bones. An MRI may be used to get a clearer picture of the damage to your back and the state of the spinal cord in relation to the fracture. If you need surgery for your fracture, a CT scan will provide your doctor with the insights they need to plan your procedure.
Treatment for Spine Fractures in Central GA
Nonsurgical Spine Fracture Treatment
The proper course of treatment for your spine fracture will depend on various factors, including what caused it and where it is located along your spine. Fortunately, most spinal fractures do not require surgery. One conservative treatment method is a brace, which holds the spine in alignment and helps the broken vertebrae heal. If you need to wear a brace, your OrthoGeorgia physician will let you know which type and how long you need to wear it. A long period of rest and treatment for underlying osteoporosis (if this condition is present) can also be helpful in the nonsurgical healing of a spinal fracture. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are also key to a successful recovery.
Physical Therapy for Spine Fractures in Central GA
Physical therapy is often an excellent nonsurgical treatment option for spinal fractures. Depending on your specific therapy plan, you may spend time strengthening your back muscles and improving your overall strength, all of which help to reduce bone loss and prevent future injury. OrthoGeorgia’s physical therapy locations in Central GA utilize state-of-the-art equipment and personalized treatment plans for each patient, with our staff trained in a variety of specialized physical therapy treatments. We offer physical therapy services in Macon (Buildings A and B), Warner Robins, and Kathleen, GA.
Do I Need Surgery for a Spine Fracture?
Surgery may be recommended for a spinal fracture especially if the fracture is unstable and has the potential to damage the spinal cord. Your doctor may also recommend surgical intervention if you are still in pain after a few months of conservative treatment. Two minimally invasive procedures that are often used to address spine fractures include vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
Vertebroplasty: During this procedure, bone cement is used to strengthen and reinforce the fractured vertebrae. This is achieved through an injection into the area of the damaged vertebrae.
Kyphoplasty: This procedure uses the same steps and techniques as vertebroplasty, however it starts with the insertion of a tiny balloon into the vertebrae to push the bones back into their correct position.
Other Spine and Back Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
At OrthoGeorgia, we are proud to help our patients address the pain and discomfort of several orthopaedic spine conditions and injuries, including spinal fractures. If you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your daily life, whether they are affecting your back or elsewhere, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists today. Spine and neck conditions and injuries we diagnose and treat at OrthoGeorgia include: