Breaking a bone anywhere in the body is painful to say the least. But when it comes to spinal fractures, things become slightly more complicated. The spinal cord protects the spinal nerves. This area is highly compact and minor changes in anatomy of spine can cause debilitating pain. From severe pain to immobility, a spinal fracture is a serious condition. The good news however, is that it can be treated non-surgically. We at Spinalogy Clinic, Pune show you how.
What is a Spine Fracture?
As we know, the spinal column is made up of a series of bones called vertebrae. There are 33vetebrae in total, stacked one on top of the other, separated by spinal discs. Usually from a frontal viewpoint the vertebral column appears straight, but when seen from the side, it has a gradual S-shaped curved.
The most common type of injury to the vertebra is a fracture. There are different kinds of fractures that might occur. Some may classify them differently, but broadly these are a few types of spine fractures.
Spine fractures may also be classified on the basis of the extent of damage. For example a stable fracture is one which does not cause any spinal deformity or neurological problems as opposed to an unstable fracture.
Another basis of classification is which part of the vertebrae has been affected. This is called the Denis Classification. Here the vertebrae are divided into 3 parts, the anterior (front) column, the middle column and the posterior column. The middle column is crucial to spine stability and this is the area where fracture is most likely to cause nerve damage.
Common Reasons for Spine Fracture
A spine fracture could occur for various reasons. To begin with people involved in high-velocity traumatic accidents or a fall may develop a spine fracture. Sporting injuries, vehicular accidents, violent acts etc. may all lead to a spine fracture. These most commonly occur in the middle or lower back.
However, more common than this are cases where a person’s the bones have weakened due to the existence of another condition. Osteoporosis, bone cancer and spinal tumors all lead to spinal fractures. Here, a person may develop a spine fracture even while doing routine daily activities.
Clinical presentation/Symptoms of a Spine Fracture
The symptoms of a spine fracture depend on the kind of fracture you have and how it has affected you i.e. – if it has affected the nerves. While severe pain in the back is the most evident symptom, there are situations you may not experience as much pain. If the fracture has affected the nerves, you may feel symptoms such as weakness and numbness in the limbs and radiating pain. In the case of compression factors, you may even lose height or notice a hump in your spine.
Non-surgical Treatment of Spine Fractures
Spine fracture treatment largely focuses on restoring mobility and managing pain. Pain management aims to control symptoms and minimize the use of heavy medication. When pain management fails, a non-surgical procedure called Vertebroplasty is performed.
Vertebroplasty involves inserting bone cement into the damaged parts of the vertebrae. This cement provides additional support to the bones eliminating pain and preventing further collapse of the vertebrae. This procedure is usually done 4-6 weeks after the fracture has occurred, when the pain doesn’t subside. It is done in cases where there is no neurological damage.
Essentially a vertebroplasty cements the vertebrae in its current position. If the vertebra is close to its original position, this procedure works well. However, if the spine has curved due to the fracture, another procedure called Kyphoplasty is performed.
Kyphoplasty is another non-surgical intervention. It aims to reduce the kyphosis that results from spine fractures. Kyphosis refers to extreme curvature of the upper spine, leading to a forward stooping position. It works similar to vertebroplasty except that here; before the cement is inserted a special balloon is inserted and inflated within the fractured vertebrae. This helps restore the bone to its original height.
Spine fractures are fairly common, and at Spinalogy Clinic, Pune, we use these non-surgical methods to treat them. These methods are effective and safe. In general, any discomfort in the spine should be shown to a doctor immediately. Walk into the Spinalogy Clinic, Pune any time for a consultation.
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