Of all the injuries you can sustain following an accident, a compression fracture of the spine is one of the most frequently misunderstood. These injuries can be debilitating for patients if they are not treated properly, and over time, they can cause a serious decline in their overall health. Learning more about compression fractures of the spine will help you make better choices about your treatment options.
What Is a Compression Fracture of the Spine?
A compression fracture of the spine, also known as a vertebral compression fracture, occurs when one of the bones in your spine collapses into the bone below. It is most common in the center portion of the back known as the thoracic spine. People who have compression fractures of the spine experience a wide range of symptoms, but the most common include incapacitating pain, limited range of motion, and over time, a decline in overall health.
How to Know if You Have a Compression Fracture of the Spine
Back injuries are especially common after automobile accidents, even if you do not feel pain. A surge of adrenaline can mask even the most severe pain for a short period of time, which means you may be injured and not realize it. It is
critical that you see a doctor as soon as possible in order to receive a proper diagnosis. The doctor will ask you questions
about your injury and your pain, and then very likely perform a spinal X-ray to see the extent of the injury. If the X-ray reveals a compression fracture, you may also need CT scans for more detailed images and MRIs to visualize the nearby discs and nerves.
How to Treat Compression Fracture of the Spine
Treatment options will depend on the severity of your compression fracture. For less serious injuries, nonsurgical options such as analgesic pain medications, back braces, bedrest, and physical therapy are quite common. Some people heal in a matter of days or weeks, but others may experience pain and other symptoms for as long as three months.
Your doctor may prescribe narcotic pain medications designed to help relieve the various types of pain you are experiencing. Surgical options include procedures during which the surgeon will essentially glue the bone back together with an acrylic cement, which can immediately stabilize your spine and provide you with a great deal of pain relief.
Compression fractures of the spine can be incredibly painful, limit your range of motion, and prevent you from going to work or even doing things you enjoy. The best way to reduce the risk of further injury and heal from your injury as
quickly as possible involves seeing a medical professional right away.