The bones in our spine are called vertebrae. Although our vertebrae are strong and can withstand a lot of stress, they can sometimes fracture. Vertebral fractures occur when one or more bones in the spine weaken and fragment. There are several different causes for vertebral fractures.
WHAT CAUSES VERTEBRAL FRACTURES?
Compression fractures are the most common type of vertebral fracture and are often seen in patients with osteoporosis or weakened bones. They can occur due to extreme pressure on the spine, usually due to an injury or fall. Underlying conditions can also weaken vertebral bones and lead to compression fractures. Contributors that can weaken the bones are tumors, menopause, or long-term prednisone use.
Burst Vertebral fractures are more severe than compression fractures and are usually associated with an extreme trauma that crushes the vertebrae. Burst fractures affect the entire vertebrae unlike compression fractures that usually only occur in one part of the bone. It is possible for fragments of crushed bone to injure the spinal cord.
Fracture-dislocation includes any of the previously mentioned fractures, plus significant vertebral bone movement. This type of injury causes severe spinal instability.
SYMPTOMS OF VERTEBRAL FRACTURES
Symptoms of vertebral fracture can vary significantly depending on the type and severity. Some spinal fractures do not cause pain at all. Symptoms can include pain, swelling or the development of neural deficits such as the following:
- Pain that radiates into arms or legs
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Bladder and or bowel issues
- Paralysis in rare instances
The MISI Approach to Treating Spinal Fractures
Various non surgical and surgical treatments are available, depending on the type of spinal fracture. For less serious spinal fractures, non surgical treatments can include bracing, pain management, physical therapy, medication therapy, activity modification and rest.
When pain persists despite conservative treatment, minimally invasive spinal procedures can be performed by the specialists at MISI. If spinal fractures lead to spinal instability or put the spinal cord at risk, a minimally invasive stabilization procedure is performed. Below are some minimally invasive procedures and stabilization surgeries that may be needed:
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.