Fracture

A fracture is a broken bone. It can range from a thin crack to a complete break. Bone can fracture crosswise, lengthwise, in several places, or into many pieces. Most fractures happen when a bone is impacted by more force or pressure than it can support.

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What are the reasons for lumbar spine fracture?

Spinal fractures are a serious orthopedic injury primarily resulting from high-velocity impacts including:

  • Car or motorcycle accident

  • Fall from height

  • Sports accident

  • Violent act (gunshot wound or assault)

Other conditions that cause spinal fractures include:

  • Osteoporosis

  • Spinal tumors

Symptoms of lumbar spine fracture 

The most common symptom of spinal fracture is severe back pain that worsens with movement

Spinal fracture symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the back

  • Tingling or numbness

  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs

  • Uncontrolled muscle spasms

  • Loss of urinary or bowel control

When should I seek medical help?

If you experience any high-velocity trauma including a car accident and suffer from intense back pain, go to the hospital immediately. Also, seek help if you feel:

  • Severe back pain that worsens with movement

  • Neurological symptoms

    • Lower limb weakness or paralysis

    • Tingling and numbness of lower limbs

    • Loss of bladder control

Diagnosis 

Spinal fractures require an evaluation from a medical doctor. Depending on injuries, other diagnostic tests your doctor may recommend include:

  • X-rays to check for fractures or abnormal position of the spine

  • Spine CT scan to view changes in the bone structure

  • MRI scan to determine soft tissue damage to the ligaments and discs, and assess spinal cord injury

Treatment 

When a spinal fracture occurs, the first step in treating the fracture is to stabilize the individual usually using a backboard or a stretcher.

To prevent the person from moving and sustaining further injuries.

After further assessment of the fracture, the next steps include:

  • Surgery

    • Depending on the severity and location of the fracture.

    • Relieve pressure on the spinal cord and stabilize the spine

  • Non-surgical treatment could be given to minor fractures with a brace with rest.

  • Pain control

After emergency treatments are implemented, treatment for spinal fractures may include:

  • Physical rehabilitation and therapy

Recovery 

Regardless of whether treatment is surgical or nonsurgical, there will be a period of rehabilitation after a fracture has healed.

The goals of rehabilitation include:

  1. Reducing pain

  2. Restoring mobility

  3. Returning the patient as closely as possible to his or her preinjury state

The rehabilitation could be done in both in-patient and out-patient settings.

If your fracture was caused by osteoporosis, you are at an increased risk for additional fractures. Your doctor would recommend treatments to restore bone density.

Possible complications include

  • Chronic pain

  • Inadequate reduction of the fracture

  • Neurologic injury (paralysis)

  • Progressive deformity of the spine.

Prevention of osteoporotic fracture of the spine 

  • Weight-bearing exercise

  • Adequate dietary calcium

  • Adequate sunshine for Vitamin D absorption

  • Avoidance of smoking

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

  • Prevent falls