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Myths and Facts About Spinal Fractures

Jan 05, 2024
Myths and Facts About Spinal Fractures

Myths and Facts About Spinal Fractures

Your spine supports your body, allows you to move, and protects your spinal cord, a critical part of your central nervous system. It’s safe to say that any damage to your spine, such as a spinal fracture, can significantly affect your quality of life. 

In Tampa, Florida, Dr. Phillip Henkin and our team at the NeuroSpine Center take spinal fractures seriously. If you’re experiencing back pain and swelling — classic spinal fracture symptoms — consulting with us for a proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Here, we help you separate fact from fiction regarding spinal fractures and discuss their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 

What exactly is a spinal fracture?

Your spine consists of multiple small bones called the vertebrae. When or more of these bones break or collapse, you have a spinal fracture. 

These injuries range in severity. For example, a minor hairline fracture causes minimal pain, while a severe fracture could lead to spinal cord damage.

The severity of a spinal fracture also depends on what part of your spine the injury occurs. Injuries to your neck and lower back can be pretty severe. 

Causes and symptoms

The most common causes of spinal fractures are high-impact traumas, such as car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Diseases like osteoporosis or cancer can also weaken your vertebrae, making them more susceptible to fractures. 

Symptoms of spinal fractures vary from person to person, but some of the most commonly experienced are acute back pain, swelling, and, in severe cases, numbness or paralysis.

Misconceptions about spinal fractures 

Myths about spinal fractures can cause you to underestimate or overestimate the seriousness of your injury. Here are some of the most common misconceptions.

Myth: Spinal fractures always lead to paralysis

The fact is, while some severe fractures can cause spinal cord damage, many spinal fractures don’t result in paralysis. Each case is unique, and your outcome typically depends on the location of your injury and the severity of the fracture.

Myth: Only older adults suffer from spinal fractures

Although older people have a higher risk of getting spinal fractures due to conditions like osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur at any age. It’s especially common with people who play high-impact sports. Car accidents are also a leading cause among younger people. 

Myth: Surgery is the only option for spinal fracture treatment

There are many treatment options for spinal fractures, ranging from nonsurgical methods like wearing a brace and physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity of your injury. 

Myth: If you can walk, you don’t have a spinal fracture

It’s a common misconception that spinal fractures always affect your ability to move with ease. However, some people with minor or stable spinal fractures can still walk and may not experience debilitating pain immediately. 

It’s crucial to note that a minor fracture can devolve into a severe injury even if you’re not experiencing immediate symptoms. It’s vital to consult with Dr. Henkin if you’ve been involved in a traumatic accident.

Myth: Spinal fractures are always caused by trauma

Traumatic accidents are common causes of spinal fractures, but not all fractures are triggered by external trauma. Conditions such as osteoporosis or certain types of cancer can weaken your bones, making them more susceptible to fractures even with minimal stress. 

Additionally, doing certain repetitive activities like running or gymnastics can contribute to stress fractures in your spine.

Diagnosis and treatment 

To diagnose a spinal fracture, Dr. Henkin conducts imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. He also performs a thorough physical exam and reviews your medical history before recommending the appropriate treatment.

For a minor fracture, a conservative treatment option like a brace and pain medication may be sufficient. In more severe cases, however, you may need surgery.

Spinal fractures can be complex, but you don’t have to let them prevent you from living a full and active life. At NeuroSpine Center, we provide cutting-edge treatment for spinal fractures and support you through every step of the recovery process. 

If you suspect you have a spinal fracture, don’t wait until you develop debilitating symptoms; book a consultation with Dr. Henkin online today or call 813-534-4945.