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Types, symptoms and treatment of spinal fractures

One common cause of fractures to the spine is a high-speed car collision. These injuries frequently occur in the lower and middle of the back. Ohio traffic accident victims and their families might need to learn more about the types of fractures, symptoms and treatment options.

The main symptom of a spinal fracture is moderate to severe pain that worsens with movement. Weakness, numbness, tingling and trouble with bladder and bowel control are symptoms that may occur when damage is caused to the spinal cord. High-energy trauma, such as from a car crash, could also cause unconsciousness and brain damage. Thoracic and lumbar fractures are classified according to the pattern of the injury and any spinal cord damage. This helps doctors determine treatment plans for their patients.

One type is the flexion fracture. With a compression, the front of the vertebra cracks, losing height, but the back does not. With an axial burst, breaks occur on both sides. These injuries are often treated with wearing a brace for six to 12 weeks and rehabilitation exercises. Surgery is often required for unstable fractures that cause severe vertebral height, significant fragments, nerve damage or excessive angulation. A second type is the extension fracture, which pulls apart the vertebra. This is more common in head-on collisions, which cause the upper body to move forward as the upper body remains stabilized. Vertebral body extension fractures can be treated with a brace for 12 weeks, while ligament-related fractures usually require surgery. The final type is the rotation fracture. A transverse process fracture is less common, resulting from extreme bending or rotating sideways, and can be treated without a brace in some cases. A fracture-dislocation usually causes spinal cord compression and requires surgery.

Due to the surgery required to treat some types of spinal fractures, car accident victims could incur high medical bills. Through the filing of a personal injury claim they might be able to recover these financial damages as well as other compensation.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Fractures of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine", accessed on Feb. 15, 2015

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