Fractures can occur anywhere along the spine. Five to ten percent occur in the cervical (neck) region. Sixty – seventy percent occur in the thoracolumbar (mid back + low back) region (e.g. T10, T11, T12) and 20 – 30 % in upper back spine.
When more pressure is put on a bone than it can stand, it will break. The most common type of spine fracture is a vertebral body compression fracture. Sudden downward force destroys and collapses the body of the vertebrae. If the force is great enough, it may send bone fragments into the spinal canal, called a burst fracture.
Osteoporosis & Spine Fracture
A spinal fracture due to osteoporosis (weak bones) is commonly referred to as a compression fracture, but can also be called a vertebral fracture, osteoporotic fracture, or wedge fracture. People affected by osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer that weaken bone are prone to vertebral compression fractures. The fracture appears as a wedge-shaped collapse of the vertebra. The front of the bone (vertebra) collapses and back side of the same bone remain undamaged. Multiple fractures can cause a forward hunch of the spine called kyphosis. As far as the back of the fractured bone (vertebra) is safe, spine initially remains stable but needs urgent intervention for future stability and safety as well.
Osteoporosis causes bones to thin and become more brittle and weak. The thinning bones can collapse during normal activity, leading to a spinal fracture. Spinal fractures due to osteoporosis often occur while doing something that causes relatively minor injury to the spine.
What are the symptoms
Symptoms of a spinal fracture problem vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. They include
- Back or neck pain of sudden onset with or without any injury
- Pain gets worse with standing / walking / changing posture and improves with lying down straight
- Numbness, tingling may or may not be present
- Muscle spasm
- Gradual loss of muscle and aerobic training due to lack of movement and exercises
Not all fractures cause spinal cord injury and rarely is the spinal cord completely severed.
Because osteoporosis is a silent disease, even if there is no back pain, middle age or elderly persons (especially women) need to be watchful about potential fractures if there is height loss, limited ability to twist and bend the back, and/or deformity that develops in the spine.
The problem is that the fracture is not always recognized or accurately diagnosed – instead, the patient’s pain is often just thought of as general back pain, such as from a muscle strain or other injury, or slip disc, or as a common part of aging. As a result, approximately two thirds of the vertebral fractures that occur each year are not diagnosed and therefore not treated timely.
Timely treatment of these fractures is very important, as it can save the patient from great deal of pain and disability. Treatment of a spinal fracture caused by osteoporosis is usually two-pronged, including both treatment of the fracture, and treatment of the underlying osteoporosis that led to the fracture. Click on Spine Fracture Treatment to know in detail.
Interventional Pain and Spine Centre, Delhi, India, with its branches Contact us at Rohini, Ashok Vihar, Punjabi Bagh, Paschim Vihar (New Delhi) and Rohtak (Haryana) is the best spine clinic to treat spine fractures without any major surgery and with minimally invasive, pinhole techniques.