What is a Fractured Vertebra?
A fractured vertebra is a break or crack in any of the 33 bones that comprise the human spine.
The vertebrae provide the main support for your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend and twist. Fractured vertebrae can result in a wide range of symptoms, from mild to extremely severe. Spinal fractures can pinch, compress and even tear the spinal cord. Fractured Vertebra Treatment depends on the type of fracture and the resulting degree of spinal instability. The Pain Experts of Arizona are committed to providing the highest level of care, combining technical expertise and medical innovation with respect, dedication, and compassion for every patient. Led by double board-certified anesthesiologist and interventional pain specialist Dr. Ahdev Kuppusamy, at The Pain Experts of Arizona Fractured Vertebra Treatment is delivered by the trusted experts that can help you get back to doing the things you love.
Causes of vertebral fractures
Spinal fractures often result from high-velocity impacts, such as occur in falls, vehicular crashes, or contact sports. But certain medical conditions that weaken bones, including osteoporosis and spinal tumors, can also cause fractured vertebrae.
Types of vertebral fractures
There are three types of spinal fractures:
- Compression fractures, which are usually caused by osteoporosis or spinal tumors. Compression fractures cause the front of the vertebra to crack and deteriorate.
- Axial burst fractures, caused by a loss of height on both the front and back of a vertebra often due to a fall or vertical impact.
- Chance fractures, which pull apart a vertebra, usually resulting from a car accident.
Diagnosis and symptoms of vertebral fractures
Spinal fractures diagnoses are confirmed using X-rays, CT scans, or MRI examinations.
Symptoms of spinal fractures can include back or neck pain, tingling or numbness, limb weakness or even paralysis, uncontrolled muscle spasms, and loss of urinary or bowel control.
Who should seek medical treatment?
You should seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing severe pain, numbness or weakness. Loss of bowel or bladder control should be evaluated and treated immediately.
Patients over 65 years of age or under 12 should see a doctor, particularly if their pain is the same while at rest is the same as it is when active.
Some minor fractures can be treated non-surgically with rest, time, and stabilizing braces along with medications and physical therapy.
Pain specialist treatments
More serious vertebral fractures may require intervention, ranging from highly invasive procedures to minimally invasive, non-surgical options like vertebroplasty.
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that stabilizes compression fractures in the spine by injecting bone cement into the cracked or broken bones in your back. This cement reinforces and stabilizes your spine.
Your doctor will determine if you’re eligible for vertebroplasty, as it’s only suggested if previous treatment options, such as physical therapy, rest, and pain relievers, have not decreased your pain.
Conditions that may be treated by vertebroplasty include:
- Vertebral compression fractures typically caused by osteoporosis
- Crushed discs
- Vertebral hemangioma or osteonecrosis
- Weakened vertebrae
Kyphoplasty is a modified technique that uses a balloon to help guide the cement and increase the height of collapsed bone. Spaces created by the balloons are then filled with cement.
Risks and contraindications
Vertebroplasty risks include infection, adverse reaction to anesthesia, other allergic reactions, hemorrhage, fractures in nearby bones, nerve root irritation, and surgical cement flowing outside the treated bone.
Other forms of surgical stabilization include the insertion of plates, screws, or cages.
The benefits of surgery should be weighed against their risks. While a large portion of surgical patients report significant pain relief, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty can be an attractive alternative to these more invasive procedures.
Benefits of vertebroplasty
Vertebroplasty often provides relief from back pain and allows you to return to normal activities without physical therapy or rehabilitation. After the procedure, patients experience an increase in functional abilities and regain back mobility.
Prior to the procedure, your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), blood thinners, or immunosuppressant medications to reduce your risk of infection or other complications. You should not eat or drink several hours before the procedure.
During vertebra fracture treatment Arizona interventional pain specialist Dr. Kuppusamy will ask you to lay face down on an X-ray table, and then they will numb your skin with a local anesthetic. You’ll be given either moderate or general anesthesia. The medical professional performing the procedure will use the continuous X-ray to guide the needle as they place it into the vertebral body and inject the cement mixture into the vertebra.
Once your procedure is complete, you’ll wait in an observation room until the cement hardens. You’ll need someone to drive you home, and your doctor will discuss when you can return to normal activities and recreation, such as sports or heavy lifting.
You may experience pain from the procedure for about two to three days. Your back pain may be relieved immediately, while others find pain relief within two days. If your pain worsens or does not improve after about a week, contact your doctor.
Get back to doing what you love
The Pain Experts of Arizona, serving Gilbert, Chandler, and all of Arizona, are dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients and their families. Our founder, Dr. Ahdev Kuppusamy, is a double board-certified anesthesiologist and interventional pain specialist whose career mission is to help restore you to living the life you love. The Pain Experts of Arizona warmly invite you to schedule a consultation to develop a comprehensive treatment program toward a pain-free life.