Spinal compression fractures come don't just come from falls. They can happen any time your vertebrae have a sudden jarring that hurls your back beyond its stress threshold. Those with osteoporosis and other bone-compromised spinal conditions are more likely to have their weakened vertebrae fracture and compress than someone with a healthy spine. Most spinal compression fractures heal without surgery. Surgery is needed when there is danger to your spinal nerves or your spinal cord.
What Kind of Spinal Compression Fractures Are There?
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are three basic fracture types:
- Flexion: usually caused by underlying osteoporosis and sometimes by landing on the feet from a significant height
- Extension: often caused by accident trauma where one part of the body moves forward and the other is held in place (example: a car crash)
- Rotation: unstable fractures, sometimes vertebrae are injured to the point of spinal cord and nerve damage
Common Symptoms of Spinal Compression Fractures
Spinal compression fractures are not always obvious. For instance, you may be breathing a sigh of relief after a fall where you land hard on your buttocks instead of your head. However, to protect the head in a fall, people often tuck their chin forward. It can be quite jarring to your neck and spine if you land hard on your posterior and tuck your head.
If you begin to have pain in your back or in your extremities, numbness, or unusual weakness, you may want to get checked out by your physician. You could have one or more spinal compression fractures. Your doctor will determine your course of treatment. All treatments are dependent on the type of fracture and any life-threatening injuries. According to the Spine Institute of New York, four out of 10 women will get an osteoporosis-related spinal compression fracture by the time they are 80 years old!
How Are Fractures Treated and What Is The Recovery Time?
Stable fractures are usually treated with rest and pain medication. Unstable fractures may or may not require surgical intervention. Surgery is to stabilize the spine. Surgeons may use screws or rods to help fuse vertebrae. Complications can include internal bleeding, spinal fluid leaks, and pneumonia. Recovery after surgery may include occupational or physical therapy to restore any lost mobility. Recovery time may take days for a stable injury or months for post-surgery rehabilitation.
Prevent spinal compression fractures by reducing your chance for osteoporosis. A bone density test can help your doctor ascertain your risk for fracture should you fall or have an accident. Make an appointment at a clinic like Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates for help treating a spinal compression fracture.