Orthopedic Surgery

What is a Spinal Fracture?

What are Spinal Fractures?

Spinal Fracture and traumatic vertebral injury medical concept as a human anatomy spinal column with a broken burst vertebra due to compression or other osteoporosis back disease on a white background.

When the bones in your spine, called vertebrae, break and collapse, this is known as a spinal fracture. These fractures can occur from trauma or injury, such as having a bad fall or automobile accident. Spinal fractures can also be caused by low-energy movements like sneezing or coughing or even reaching down to tie your shoe.  Many times this occurs due to Osteoporosis which means your bones have become weak and brittle.   Over a million people annually  suffer from this type of spinal fracture; spinal compression fractures are the most common type.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a Vertebral Compression Fracture or spinal fracture can include sudden back pain which lasts longer than a few days, especially in people who have or at risk of having osteoporosis or osteopenia. Speak with your physician if you have these symptoms so he or she can properly evaluate you.

How Common Are Spinal Fractures?

Spinal fractures are actually twice as likely to occur over hip fractures.  Postmenopausal women over 55 are the most likely to get a spinal fracture.
Consequences of Untreated Spinal Fractures

When spinal fractures are left untreated, the vertebra can heal in a broken or compressed position. This can lead to increased kyphosis or a forward curvature of the spine.

When spinal fractures remain deformed, it shortens the spine and pushes it forward.   Additional spinal fracture can occur which increases the spinal deformity and the spinal curvature can become more visible.  A spine that is not aligned correctly can also compress your organs and lead to other health problems:

  • Reduced ability to take care of yourself
  • Reduced mobility, loss of balance, and increased risk of falls
  • Reduced days of activity and more days in bed
  • Decreased appetite and sleep disorders
  • Chronic back pain and fatigue
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Feelings of isolation and sadness
  • Increased risk for future additional fractures