About Spinal Fractures
A spinal fracture is quite literally the fracturing of any vertebra in the spine, which can place the entire body at risk. Spinal fractures can cause bone fragments to compress or damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord, creating a potentially life-altering injury. For more than 15 years, our board-certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeon, Dr. Kendall Carll, has been specializing in the diagnosis and careful treatment of spinal fractures at his North Texas practice, Spine Care of North Texas. His medical offices in Addison, Frisco and Plano are equipped to help patients who may have experienced a spinal fracture due to accidents or the deterioration of spinal vertebrae. His aim is to help you find relief from pain and to help you regain your ability to be active and enjoy life to the fullest.
Spinal Fracture Reviews
"Dr Carll was a lifesaver for me! I fought the back pain from a pinched/herniated sciatic nerve for 7 months. I tried everything from PT, chiropractic, spinal decompression, antigravity table, ibuprofen and more ibuprofen and steroids. Eventually, the pain was so unbearable that I could not sit through a meal or even drive. I finally gave up avoiding surgery and went to Dr Carll. I had minimally invasive microdisctectomy and the results were excellent. A few months of rehab later and I’ve got my life back. I’m so glad I saw Dr. Carll! He was so caring and explained everything thoroughly, including what to expect after surgery. His staff was just as wonderful and caring. I’d go back to him in a heartbeat. I’m very grateful for his skilled hands. God bless them."- M.J. / Healthgrades / Oct 15, 2019
Most spinal fractures occur because of car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. However, some spinal fractures occur slowly over time due to diseases such as osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, the vertebra may crumble and could lead to compression. This can lead to back pain, height loss, and kyphosis, a condition that causes a hunched posture. A spinal fracture can occur anywhere along the spine; 5 – 10% occur in the neck and approximately 60% occur in the lower back region. Fractures caused by conditions like osteoporosis tend to occur in the upper thoracic region.
Many spinal fractures can be prevented by adhering to a few basic instructions. You should always wear your seatbelt while riding in a vehicle. Additionally, you should wear protective gear such as a helmet when playing sports, riding a bicycle or motorcycle, or horseback riding. Finally, you should never dive head first into a shallow swimming pool.
Symptoms of a spinal fracture tend to vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Most often, the symptoms include back or neck pain, numbness, tingling, muscle spasm, weakness, bowel/bladder changes, and paralysis. Those suffering from a spinal fracture may quickly realize that standing and walking make their pain considerably worse, while lying flat on their back helps to ease the pain a bit. Not all fractures cause injury to the spinal cord and rarely is the spinal cord completely severed. However, all patients who suspect that they may be suffering from a spinal fracture should seek immediate medical attention to ascertain the nature of the injury and prevent any further complications or pain.
For accidents that may have affected the spine, a trip to the emergency room is warranted. The doctor may initially palpate your back to detect tenderness or sensitivity near your vertebra and along your spine. Diagnostic testing will be conducted based on the findings of the physical exam. X-rays may be conducted to determine whether a vertebra shows a fracture. CT scans could also be used, with or without contrast dye, to create two-dimensional images of your spine. MRI scans may be needed to view the soft tissues of your spine, and to assess ligament and disc damage that might be affecting your spinal cord.
Many spinal fractures heal with conservative treatment, such as pain management and bracing. However, severe fractures may require surgery to realign the spinal vertebrae and strengthen the area of the spine that has been impacted.
Custom back and neck braces can help maintain spinal alignment and immobilize the spine while it heals. Wearing a brace will also help control pain by restricting movement. After 8 – 12 weeks, the bracing can usually be discontinued. Unstable neck fractures may require traction to realign the spine. With these injuries, a halo ring and vest brace may be required.
If a spinal fracture is deemed to be unstable, a fusion procedure can be performed to join the vertebrae. The bones will be held together with a bone graft and the insertion of plates, rods, hooks, and screws, possibly even a medical cage. After the fusion procedure, it might take as many as 12 months for the bones to heal completely.
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is often used to treat compression fractures in instances where the vertebral body is compressed or crushed in some manner. These types of fractures are commonly caused by osteoporosis and spinal tumors.
- During a vertebroplasty, bone cement is injected through a hollow needle into the fractured vertebral body
The stabilization or expansion of the vertebral space in either manner can serve to relieve pressure on the spinal cord that might be caused by bone fragments from the fracture. These fragments can be removed, which may allow the spinal cord to return to its normal functionality.
Start Receiving Relief
Board-certified North Texas spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll is passionate about providing patients with relief from back injuries or long-term spinal issues. Using proven nonsurgical and surgical techniques, he strives to help patients regain their ability to enjoy life without discomfort. Whether you have previously suffered a spinal fracture or suspect that you may have recently injured your back, we invite you to call Spine Care of North Texas to schedule your appointment. Our skilled team is prepared to help you regain your life and mobility and to reduce your discomfort as quickly as possible.