Traumatic injuries to the bones in the spinal cord (vertebrae), nerve roots, or the spinal cord itself can be a frightening scenario, often causing back spams and requiring close monitoring alongside highly specialized surgical care. When one of the structures within the spine becomes damaged, it is important to stabilize the injury early to preserve as much neurological function as possible.
Spinal compression fractures, in which one of the vertebral bodies in the spine collapses, are the most common type of spinal trauma and can occur as a result of a traumatic blow to the vertebrae (car crash, falls, sports injuries) or due to weakening of bones seen in osteoporosis. In severe cases of osteoporosis, thinning vertebrae may collapse during actions as simple as bending forward. Left untreated, these fractures may lead to debilitating back pain, decreased mobility, and a reduction in overall health. When diagnosed early, however, spinal compression fractures can be resolved with a relatively simple minimally invasive procedure.
Dr. Gravori has spent many years treating patients with severe traumatic spinal injuries that occur after motor vehicle accidents, job injuries, or sports injuries. He has experience at UCLA, Harbor UCLA, the Veteran Administration (VA) Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and at Northridge Medical Center emergency rooms attending to spinal trauma patients.
At ProMedSPINE, we take pride in offering the most sophisticated technology and cutting-edge minimally invasive spine procedures available to provide the highest quality of care for our patients experiencing spinal trauma or back spasms. We specialize in the comprehensive treatment of injuries and degenerative changes to the spine. To learn more about our treatment approach to vertebral fractures or to schedule an initial consultation with one of our renowned back doctors, please call 888-75-SPINE.
Spinal Compression Fractures: Signs and Symptoms
The first sign of a broken bone is usually pain around the site of injury. Spinal fractures can occur anywhere along the spine, including bones in the neck (cervical), upper back (thoracic), lower back (lumbar), or just above the tailbone (sacral). Back or neck pain may be the only symptom associated with a spinal compression fracture. In rare cases, however, a piece of bone may break off into the spinal canal, or the vertebral body may slip and compress the spinal cord or nearby nerves. Weakness in the arms or legs, impaired bowel function, or lack of sensation and paralysis after a spine injury may indicate a medical emergency and should be addressed immediately.
When an individual is suspected of having a spinal compression fracture or any other type of spinal injury, your doctor will perform a comprehensive medical history and physical examination, followed by radiographic imaging studies (X-ray, CT, and/or MRI scans) to reach an accurate diagnosis. To learn more about spinal cord injury symptoms, please visit the Mayo Clinic page dedicated to spinal trauma.
Treatment Options: Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
Treatment for a spine fracture is aimed at realigning and stabilizing the broken vertebrae to relieve pain and prevent further injury. In the case of spinal compression fractures, two related minimally invasive procedure are used: vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. The outpatient procedures involve injecting a medical-grade bone cement into the fractured vertebrae through a small incision under fluoroscopic guidance. During a kyphoplasty, a thin balloon instrument is first used to expand the fractured space before cement is injected. The cement then quickly hardens, restoring normal height to the vertebrae and relieving pain due to spinal instability.
In some cases, spine fractures can actually heal well without surgical stabilization. External bracing of the back, or more frequently the neck, can immobilize the spine and allow for healing of small fractures in the vertebrae that have not caused neurologic injury. Specific treatment for a spinal compression fracture should be evaluated on an individual basis by an experienced spine surgeon.
Contact Valencia Back Surgeons Today!
ProMedSPINE is a Los Angeles-based practice dedicated to state-of-the-art, comprehensive, individualize care for diseases and conditions of the spine. Led by renowned neurosurgeon and leading expert in minimally invasive spine surgery, Todd Gravori, MD, we offer the most advanced and effective treatment options available to relieve chronic pain associated with spinal degeneration or injury.
To learn more about spinal compression fractures or to schedule an initial consultation with one of our expert doctors to understand how we can treat your back spasms, please call 888-75-SPINE or fill out our online contact form.
Next, learn about kyphosis.