Spine Fractures

A spine fracture is a break in the vertebrae .

Signs and symptoms

Spine fracture symptoms depend on the severity and location of the fracture. The most common symptoms include:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Changes in bowel or bladder functions
  • Paralysis

Potential Causes

Spine fractures are most often caused by car accidents, falls, sports injuries or violence such as gun shots.


Diagnosis of spine fractures start with a physical exam and medical history. Other procedures and tests may be needed to diagnose a spine facture, including x-rays , computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment options

There are a few possible treatment options depending on the severity of the fracture and stability of the spine:

  • Medication to manage pain.
  • Bracing to stabilize the fracture.
  • Decompression and fusion. An incision is made and the surrounding tissue is dissected until the spine is reached. We then remove the disc starting superficially, then deeper in the joint space until we work all the way through the joint and enter the spinal canal where the fracture compresses the nerves. We remove the compressive pathology very carefully as the nerves that are in that area are very delicate. After we get all of the pressure off of these delicate nerves, we then reconstruct the joint using an implant of cadaver bone or a cage made of synthetic materials. A metal plate and screws then are secured to the front of that part of the spine so that the bones of that segment will heal/fuse and remain stable. The wound is closed with stitches under the surface that dissolve after the skin has healed.

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