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The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr.

Spinal Fractures and Critical Information that you Need to Know when you or your Child is Injured

Frank J. Dito, Jr.
Car accident, personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney serving Staten Island and Brooklyn New York.

Fractures and broken bones in children and adults result from a variety of different accidents. A spinal fracture is one of the most serious fractures to occur. Spinal fractures most commonly occur from a car accident or a fall. For you or your child, a spinal fracture can result in severe and chronic pain and will require immediate medical treatment. If you or your child has suffered a spinal fracture as a result of an accident or another person's negligence, the trial attorneys at The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr. can help you.

A spinal fracture, a fracture of one of the bones of the spinal column, known as vertebrae, is a serious injury. It is usually caused by a high-energy trauma such as a car accident or a fall from a great height.

If you suspect that someone may have a spinal fracture, it is important that you do not move them. Unless the victim is in extreme danger, such as in a car wreck where the car is on fire, call “911” immediately as emergency workers are trained to treat people with spinal injuries.

Symptoms
The primary symptom of a spinal fracture is moderate to severe back pain that is made worse by movement.
If the spinal cord is involved, symptoms may include numbness, tingling, weakness, of the extremities. The injured person may experience bowel or bladder incontinence. Because spinal fractures are common in high-impact car accidents, victims may have other life threatening injuries as well.

Diagnosis
The emergency room doctor will examine the history of the accident that the person was involved in. The type of accident will help the doctor determine if they should further investigate for a spinal fracture. The most common causes of spinal fractures involve car accidents. In car accidents, victims are sometimes ejected from the vehicle or are thrown into the windshield. Spinal fractures commonly result from such occurrences.

If your doctor suspects a spinal fracture, he will locate the fractured part of the spine and determine the extent of the damage. The doctor will evaluate how the vertebra broke and if spinal cord damage is suspected. The doctor will check for obvious signs of trauma, as well as swelling, sensation and alignment of the spine. The doctor will also perform a neurologic examination to ascertain sensory, motor and reflex functions of the nervous system.

To determine if there is a fracture, your doctor will order numerous x-rays. If a fracture is identified, a CT scan or MRI will help determine the extent of the fracture and if the spinal cord is involved.

Types of Spinal Fractures

  • Compression fracture. While the front of the vertebra, known as the anterior, breaks and loses height, the back part, or posterior, of it does not. This type of fracture is usually stable, not requiring surgery, and is rarely associated with neurological or spinal cord problems.
  • Burst fracture. A common spinal fracture. The vertebra loses height on both the front and back sides. It is often caused by a fall from a height when a person lands on their feet.
  • Flexion fracture. In a flexion fracture, the vertebra is literally pulled apart. This can happen in accidents such as a head-on car crash, in which the upper body is thrown forward while the pelvis is stabilized by a lap seat belt.
  • Transverse process fracture. This fracture results from rotation or extreme sideways bending and is usually a stable fracture.
  • Fracture-displaced. This is an unstable injury involving bone and/or soft tissue, in which one vertebra may move off the adjacent one. Surgery is sometimes required to stabilize the spinal column, allowing the fracture to heal.

Treatment
Treatment involves protecting nerve function and restoring and maintaining alignment and stability of the spinal column. Your doctor will determine the best treatment method based upon the type of fracture.

Doctors usually treat compression fractures and some burst fractures without surgery, usually by wearing a brace for up to 12 weeks. A transverse process fracture requires that the patients wear a back brace and rehabilitate through walking.

Some spinal column fractures require surgery to repair. Surgery may be necessary for unstable burst fractures, flexion fractures or displaced fractures. The surgery stabilizes and realigns the spinal column using metal plates and screws, known as internal fixation, or by a spinal fusion, in which bone is grafted into the fracture to allow the vertebrae to fuse together.

If you or your child has suffered a spinal fracture, make sure that they receive appropriate medical care with an orthopedist; maintain a record of the medical treatment; avoid speaking with any insurance adjusters before you speak to a personal injury attorney; and if you or your child has suffered a bone injury or spinal fracture, you need the advice of an experienced Staten Island, New York personal injury attorney. Call Frank J. Dito, Jr. today at (800) 310-5520 for your free consultation.