Vertebral Compression Fractures
About Compression Fractures
Back and Spinal Cord Injury Accident Victim Attorneys
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. Vertebrae are bones and they can break like any other bone. A vertebral compression fractures occurs when one or more vertebrae collapses in height due to a fracture in the vertebrae. Compression fractures occur most frequently in the middle of the back (the thoracic spine.)
A compression fracture can be a very serious injury. Vertebrae surround and protect the spinal cord. A severe compression fracture can produce bone fragments or displace bone into the spinal canal where it can exert pressure on the spinal cord itself. If the displaced bone exerts enough pressure on the spinal cord partial or complete paralysis might result.
Causes of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Most compression fractures are caused by blunt force trauma sustained in car, truck or motorcycle accidents. They can all also result from slip and falls on hard surfaces or from great heights. Victims of compression fractures due to falls from great highest usually suffer this injury if they land on their feet of buttock. The vertebral bones like all other bones in the body are able to withstand great amounts of pressure without fracturing if they are healthy. However, if the force of the impact is too great or the bones of the spine aren’t healthy then compression fractures can result.
Severe osteoporosis, which is progressive loss of bone mass, is present in most people that suffer compression fractures. With osteoporosis the bones lose mass becoming thinner. These thinner bones cannot withstand as much pressure as normal healthy bones and as a result they are susceptible to fracturing. If a car accident victim with severe osteoporosis suffers a compression fracture then the insurance company will try to argue that the osteoporosis and not the car accident was the cause of the compression fracture. However, if the back part of the vertebra has been fractured then this indicates that some forceful impact was the cause of the fracture. And if the fracture is in the front of the vertebrae then this indicates that the fracture was primarily caused by osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Severe trauma, like that sustained in a car or truck accident, will usually produce pain in arms, shoulder, neck, back, buttock and legs. Pain can be accompanied by numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected extremities. Other symptoms may include difficulty walking, loss of bladder or bowl control, deformity of the spine (i.e. a hunch back), pain relief when lying down, worsening pain when standing up/walking/running/jumping, breathing problems, and stomach pain.
Diagnosis of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Diagnostic testing is the best way to diagnose the existence and extent of compression fractures. Physical examinations also have their benefits.
- X-rays: A doctor will usually order an x-ray if a compression fracture is suspected. X-rays will usually detect the presence of a compression fractures. X-rays are best for examining bones because they show bone and not tissue.
- CT Scan: A doctors sometimes order CT scans. CT scans are order to determine if the fracture is stable or not. The CT scan will take views of the spine from the top and bottom. These views will then be pieced together like a puzzle to see if the fracture is stable. Because the vertebrae are surrounded by nerves exiting the spinal cord any instability can have an effect of the surrounding spinal nerves. CT scans are important in determining if the fracture has or will put these sensitive nerves in danger.
- Neurological Exam: The doctor can determine if there is any nerve damage by testing the patient’s reflexes, muscle strength and senses. Any abnormal findings will indicate some form of nerve damage. Spinal nerves carry signals to the body. If the body doesn’t respond a particular way then this indicates that the nerve signals are not being transmitted which is an indication of nerve damage.
- MRI: If the doctor isn’t sure about which nerves are being affected, the extent of the nerve damage or what is exactly causing the pain then an MRI will be scheduled. The MRI is best for showing soft tissues like discs, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
- Physical examination: If a patient is exhibiting signs of a compression fracture then a doctor can try to determine its location by searching for tender spots along the spine.
Brockton Back Injury and Spinal Cord Accident Victim Attorneys
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If you have suffered any type of spinal cord or back injury such as a vertebral compression fracture as the result of an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Our knowledgeable and experienced Boston area motorcycle, car, truck accident and personal injury attorneys are available to represent accident victims throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts, including but not limited to Brockton, Taunton, Boston, Bridgewater, Duxbury, Canton, Stoughton, Weymouth, Hingham, Quincy, Plymouth, Marshfield, Attleboro, Braintree, Rockland, Hanover, Whitman, Middleborough, Raynham, Mansfield, Avon.
No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our Boston area spinal cord and back injury accident victim’s lawyers to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 588-0422 and you will have taken your first step to find out how best to confront this important matter. You can also use our Free Case Evaluation Form.
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