Vertebral Fractures Treatment Questions and Answers
If you have sustained a spinal injury and are exhibiting symptoms related to a vertebral fracture, come to The Orthopedic Group today. Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating vertebral fractures and can help you recover from your injury with expert care. Call us today or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Leesburg VA, Lansdowne VA, and Stone Springs VA.
The spine consists of 24 vertebrae, each one separated by an intervertebral disk that acts as a cushion. Not only does the spine provide strong structural support for the body, it also protects the spinal cords and other sensitive nerves. With this in mind, the spine is an incredibly important structure and it must be treated with great levels of care. If the spine is injured, its vertebrae can become fractured, which can cause painful symptoms and even deformities that can lead to other conditions. Fortunately, there are safe and effective treatments for vertebral fractures that can help restore form and function to the spine.
What causes a fractured vertebra?
Spinal fractures may occur due to a variety of factors, the most common being trauma such as automobile accidents, falls, or high-impact sports. Other causes include conditions that weaken the bones, including osteoporosis. Causes of vertebral fractures include:
- Trauma, including:
- car accidents
- violent acts (eg, being shot)
- Conditions that weaken the bones, such as :
- bone cancer
- spinal tumors
How serious is a fractured vertebra?
A fractured vertebra can be very serious as it conceals the spinal cord, which is responsible for the transmission of nerve signals throughout the entire body. If a spine has been fractured, there is a risk that the spinal cord could be involved. If this is the case, there could be additional symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain
- Pins and needles sensations
It is important to seek medical attention right away if there are any changes in feeling below the point of injury or if there is pain that is constant and debilitating.
How do you treat a fractured vertebra?
A fractured vertebra is typically treated with noninvasive medical treatments or invasive procedures.
Noninvasive medical treatments for fractured vertebrae may include immobilization in a brace for up to 12 weeks, which helps to reduce pain and prevent deformity.
In severe cases, surgery may be required:
- Vertebroplasty — This surgical procedure has been used for a few decades and has seen much success in the treatment of fractured vertebrae. During the procedure, first a catheter is inserted into the compressed vertebra, which is used to inject the fractured vertebrae with bone cement. This bone cement hardens and stabilizes the vertebral column. Although this procedure does not correct the spinal deformity, it has been shown to reduce or eliminate fracture pain and enable a quick return to mobility, which in turn prevents bone loss due to bed rest.
- Kyphoplasty — Described as the surgical filling of an injured or collapsed vertebra, kyphoplasty involves inserting a tube into the vertebral column under X-ray guidance. This is followed by the insertion of an inflatable bone tamp into a small incision. Once inflated, the tamp creates a cavity to be filled with bone cement while restoring the vertebral body back toward its original height. Kyphoplasty restores the original shape and form of the spine while removing pain from spinal compression.
What happens if a fracture is left untreated?
If a fracture is left untreated, it can result in the bone failing to re-fuse (nonunion) or having a delayed re-fusion (delayed union). This can result in skeletal deformities that can cause problems with mobility or range of motion. In many cases, this can also cause pain that ranges from mild to severe and that can be persistent and unabating or present at irregular intervals. In most untreated fractures, the pain and damage will likely worsen over time. It can also lead to higher susceptibility of infections and misalignment.
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