Car accidents are responsible for nearly half of all broken backs (spinal fractures). Spinal fractures can potentially be painful and may be dangerous, causing different amounts of disability according to the type of fracture. Fractures can range from compression fractures to the more serious burst fractures and fracture-dislocations that threaten the spinal cord. These are common injuries in serious motor vehicle accidents, as well as in slip, trip, and fall accidents and construction accidents.
Spinal fractures are categorized by seriousness and stability. Fractures can be major or minor, stable or unstable. A major fracture is a serious break that includes the vertebral body, the pedicles, or the lamina, often accompanied by nerve damage and misalignment of vertebrae. A major fracture impairs the spine’s ability to bear and distribute weight, so it may not be possible for the victim to walk.
A minor fracture involves the spinous process and facet joints at the back side of a vertebra. Injuries in this area of the spine don’t have as much effect on the stability of the spine.
Stable fractures cause spinal deformity or nerve damage, so the spine remains able to bear weight.
Unstable fractures cause difficulties with the spine’s weight-bearing function and are associated with nerve damage and deformity of the spine. Unstable fractures tend to worsen with the passage of time, and can damage the spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Kinds of Spinal Fractures
Doctors divide spinal fractures into four main types:
- Flexion-distraction fractures
- Compression fractures
- Burst fractures
Symptoms of Spinal Fractures
Stable spinal fractures may not always cause pain at first, so if you’ve been in an accident that has injured your back you should be examined by a doctor who will usually order an X-ray. Serious fractures that involve the nerves or the spinal cord generally produce the following symptoms:
- Pain shooting down the arms or legs
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs
- Inability to walk; difficulty moving
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- Quadriplegia, paraplegia, or cauda equina syndrome, a type of nerve damage
Long Term Effects
Without proper treatment, the vertebrae sometimes heal in a caved-in position, creating a spinal deformity called kyphosis, hunchback, or dowager’s hump. Kyphosis causes various health problems, which include:
- Bone loss
- Loss of height
- Pain and tiredness
- Problems with the lungs
- Sleeping problems
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty with balance and the risk of falling
- Compression of internal organs
- Risk of death (increase of 23 percent)
Treatment of Broken Back
Initial treatment of spinal fractures usually includes rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and wearing a brace or cast for between 6 and 12 weeks.
If the fracture doesn’t heal with conservative treatment, the next step is back surgery.
Help for Broken Back Victims
Broken backs are often caused by someone’s negligence in causing a motor vehicle accident or by failing to maintain premises or a worksite in a safe condition. At the Abronson Law Offices, we have seen how much suffering these injuries can cause, and we are committed to helping people who are dealing with pain and limitations because of someone else’s wrongdoing.
If you’ve broken your back in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, the personal injury attorneys at Abronson Law Offices want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
We’re located in Los Gatos, and we work to help accident victims throughout Santa Clara County and the entire Bay Area.
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