A spinal fracture occurs when a bone is broken in the spine.
There are many causes of fractures from car accidents to a fall. However, if someone has weak or deteriorating bones from a preexisting condition such as osteoporosis, even an abrupt hard twist can break a bone in the spine.
Cervical fractures occur in the neck area of the spine while lumbar fractures occur in the lower back.
In lumbar fractures, symptoms may be limited to pain, swelling, and bruising. However, individuals may also experience:
Muscle spasms in the lower back
Lower back pain
Limited mobility with any range of motion
Trouble standing or walking
Numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes
Rarely, with catastrophic injuries, can result in paralysis, as well as loss of bowel and bladder function
To diagnose a fracture, X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be obtained. Treatment for fractures varies by the severity of the injury.
Minor fractures can be treated wearing a collar or a brace for a few weeks. More complex fractures resulting in instability of the spine or in neurological deficits will likely require surgery.