Spinal Fractures - Introduction
Osteoporotic fractures are covered in the osteoporosis section.
The spine is strong construct, and serves as a support of the body so that the standing position can be maintained. The spine also serves as a protector for the nerves for the upper and lower parts of the body. Spinal fracture of one or more of the spinal vertebrae is a dramatic event. In an otherwise healthy person, a spinal fracture requires a certain degree of force, and is most often seen in major trauma events. After a spinal injury, the person is usually brought to the hospital in an emergency setting with a great deal of pain in the area where the fracture is located. Frequently, there are other major injuries as well, including a spinal cord injury.
Vertebral fractures can occur in any region of the spine. The most frequently affected regions are the bottom part of the neck (cervical spine) and in the lower back (upper lumbar spine) area. Again, depending on the amount of force involved in the traumatic event, the amount of damage to the vertebrae varies. One can have a major trauma with extensive damages to the vertebrae and spinal cord and nerves, or one can have minor trauma with much less damage to the vertebrae. Fortunately, it is seldom that the spinal cord is damaged where paralysis can occur. One of the main focuses both for the affected person and the health personnel involved is to assess the severity of the fracture. Some fractures need immediate surgery to protect the spinal cord; other unstable fractures need surgery within1-3 days. Some stable fractures do not need any surgical treatment.