Spinal Fracture Accidents in Colorado

Spinal Fracture Accidents

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

June 3, 2022

Spinal Fracture from Car Accident in Colorado Springs

Spinal fractures are exceedingly serious injuries generally induced by high-velocity events such as   vehicle wrecks or lengthy falls in Colorado. The spinal cord may be pinched, compressed, or even torn by them. The kind of fracture and the degree of instability determines the treatment for spinal  fractures.    The most prevalent occur in the lower back (lumbar spine) and mid-back (thoracic spine)  (lumbar spine).

They may also happen at the thoracolumbar junction, which connects the two.

Men are four times more likely than women to have a thoracic or lumbar spine fracture. Senior individuals are also at a higher risk of spinal fractures due to osteoporosis and weakening bones.

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Spinal Fractures Signs and Symptoms

Thoracic and lumbar vertebral fractures are often connected with significant trauma, resulting in  spinal cord injury and neurological impairments. Pain or the development of neurological impairments, such as the following, may be symptoms of a spinal fracture:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Shock Neurogenic

Spinal Shock: Loss of spinal reflex action for a short time.

Spinal fractures may occur in many areas of the spine, as previously discussed, and there are also  multiple forms of Spinal Fractures. The pattern of damage determines the severity of spinal fractures and whether  or not the spinal cord has been affected. The classification of Spinal Fractures aids medical practitioners in determining the best course of therapy. 1) Flexion fractures are the most  prevalent form of a spine   fracture. 2) Extension and 3) Rotation.

Fractures of the Flexion

Compression Fractures happen when the front part of the vertebra fractures and loses height  while the rear part remains intact. These fractures are normally stable, and they are very infrequently linked to neurological issues.

Axial Burst is a kind of axial burst. Fractures occur when both sides of a vertebra lose height, often caused by falling from a great height and landing on one’s feet.

Rotation

Transverse process fractures are rare. However, they may occur as a consequence of lateral bending or rotation. Normally, they have little effect on stability.

A fracture-dislocation is an unstable injury involving both bone and soft tissue. When a vertebra dislocates, the vertebra may become displaced, causing significant spinal cord compression.

Extension

When the vertebrae are forced apart, flexion/distraction fractures develop. These usually happen  after a head-on accident in which the upper body is pushed forward while the pelvis is held in place  by a seat belt.

Overview

A broken arm or leg is not the same as a fractured spine. A vertebral fracture or dislocation may cause bone fragments to squeeze and injure the spinal nerves and cord. Car accidents, falls, gunshots and sports are the most common causes of spinal fractures. Injuries may vary from minor ligament and muscle strains to bone vertebral fractures and dislocations, as well as devastating  spinal cord injury. You may have discomfort, difficulties walking, or inability to move your arms or legs depending on the severity of the injuries (paralysis). Many fractures mend without surgery, but  severe fractures may need surgery to straighten the bones.

The spinal column and the spinal cord are two structures that make up the spine.

Understanding how your spine functions are crucial in understanding spinal fractures (see Anatomy  of the Spine). The vertebrae in your spine are 33 bones that provide the major support for your  body, enabling you to stand erect, bend, and twist. The spinal canal is a hollow region in the center  of each vertebra that offers a protected place for the spinal cord (Fig. 1). The spinal cord acts as an information superhighway, transmitting signals from the brain to the rest of the body. All body  regions are innervated by spinal nerves that branch from the spinal cord and travel between the  vertebrae.

What are the symptoms of a spinal fracture?

Spinal injuries vary from minor ligament and muscle strains (such as whiplash) to bone vertebral fractures and dislocations, as well as devastating spinal cord damage. The spinal cord may be pinched, compressed, or torn due to spinal fractures and dislocations. The kind of fracture and the  degree of instability determines the treatment for spinal fractures.

Whiplash

Whiplash is a common neck injury caused by hyperextension or fastback and forth motion of the head, which occurs most often in vehicle accidents. The jerking action affects the neck muscles and  ligaments, potentially bulging the discs. Headaches, tight muscles, and neck discomfort are all  symptoms of whiplash. It is critical that a doctor thoroughly examines a spine injury. Whiplash is not  the same as a broken bone in the spine or spinal cord damage, and the symptoms normally heal with  conservative therapy.

Stability of the spine

Excessive mobility between vertebrae is produced by strained or torn ligaments and shattered  bones, resulting in spinal instability. Pain and injury to the spinal nerves and spinal cord might result  from abnormal sliding and rubbing actions. Bracing and rest are generally enough to cure stable  fractures. Unstable fractures almost always need surgery to straighten the bones and avoid harming the spinal cord or nerves.

Fractures may develop at any point along the spine’s length. The cervical (neck) area accounts for  five to ten percent of all cancers. Sixty-four percent occur in the thoracolumbar (low back) area, with  T12-L1 being the most common location.

Fractures are classified in a variety of ways. In general, there are three types of spine fractures:

Fractures occur when a bone is subjected to a greater force than it can withstand. A vertebral body compression fracture is the most frequent form of a spine fracture. The body of the vertebrae is shattered and collapsed by a sudden downward impact. A burst fracture occurs when a force is significant enough to propel bone fragments into the spinal canal.

Vertebral compression fractures are common in people with osteoporosis, tumors, and some types of cancer that weaken bone (VCF). The vertebral fracture manifests as a wedge-shaped collapse. Multiple VCFs may produce kyphosis or a forward hang of the spine.

Dislocations occur when the ligaments and/or discs that link two vertebrae are stretched or ripped, causing the bones to become misaligned (Fig. 3). When the upper body moves quickly forward against a seat belt, the vertebrae are pulled apart, and the ligaments are stretched. A displaced vertebra may lead to spinal cord compression and instability. Stabilization surgery or a brace are frequently required.

When a bone is shattered, and the ligaments are ripped, a fracture-dislocation occurs (Fig. 4). These fractures are generally unstable, have a high propensity for becoming debilitating, and are often corrected surgically.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The degree and location of the damage determine the symptoms of a spinal fracture. Some of the symptoms are back or neck discomfort, numbness, tingling, muscular spasms, weakness,  bowel/bladder alterations, and paralysis. A spinal cord injury may cause paralysis, a lack of movement in the arms or legs. Not all fractures result in spinal cord damage, and the spinal cord is very rarely fully severed.

What are the reasons behind this?

The most common causes of spinal fractures are car accidents (45 percent), falls (20 percent), sports (15 percent), acts of aggression (15 percent), and other activities (5 percent). Diseases like osteoporosis and spine tumors also cause fractures.

Who is impacted by this?

Eighty percent of patients are between the ages of 18 and 25.

Men are four times as likely as women to have a traumatic spinal fracture. What is the procedure for making a diagnosis?

Paramedics will usually transport you to an emergency facility if you have a spinal injury (ER). An Emergency Medicine physician who is a part of the trauma team will be the first doctor to visit you in the ER. Other experts may be contacted to examine your condition, depending on your injuries. The

physicians will examine your breathing and do a spine examination. Until the relevant diagnostic  tests are done, the spine is maintained in a neck or back brace.

X-rays are used to examine the bone vertebrae in your spine and can inform your doctor if any of  them are fractured. To identify any aberrant movement, special flexion and extension x-rays may be done.

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a non-invasive, safe procedure that creates 2-dimensional pictures of your spine using an X-ray beam and a computer. It may or may not include the injection  of a dye (contrast agent) into your circulation. It’s particularly helpful for observing changes in bone structures.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a non-invasive procedure that employs a magnetic field and radiofrequency radiation to provide a comprehensive image of your spine’s soft tissues. Nerves and discs are visible, unlike on an X-ray. It may or may not include the injection of a dye (contrast agent) into your circulation. MRI is beneficial for diagnosing spinal cord injury and evaluating soft tissue damage to ligaments and discs.

What options are there for treatment?

To avoid additional damage, pain control and stability are the first steps in treating a fracture. Other injuries to the body, such as those to the chest, may be present and need care. Bracing and/or  surgery may be required depending on the kind of fracture and its stability.

Braces and orthotics serve three purposes: they preserve spinal alignment, immobilize your spine during recovery, and reduce discomfort by limiting mobility. For stable fractures, a brace, such as a rigid collar (Miami J) for cervical fractures, a cervical-thoracic brace (Minerva) for upper back fractures, or a thoracolumbar-sacral orthosis (TLSO) for lower back fractures, maybe all that is required. The brace is normally removed after 8 to 12 weeks. Traction may be required to realign the spine after an unstable neck fracture or dislocation. You may need a halo ring and a vest brace.

Instrumentation and fusion are surgical methods used to repair unstable fractures. The uniting of  two vertebrae using a bone graft and hardware such as plates, rods, hooks, pedicle screws, or cages are known as fusion. The bone graft aims to unite the vertebrae above and below to make a single  solid piece of bone. A solid fusion might take months or even years to achieve.

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are minimally invasive treatments used to repair compression fractures caused by osteoporosis or tumors in the spine. Bone cement is injected into the broken vertebral body using a hollow needle in vertebroplasty. A balloon is inserted and inflated to widen the compressed vertebra before bone cement fills the hole.

Spinal Fractures and Their Complications

Fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine may result in several problems. Blood clots, for example, may form and induce immobility, which can be deadly. These clots might go to the lungs and produce pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Pneumonia and pressure sores are two more  typical consequences of spinal fractures. Bleeding, infection, spinal fluid leaks, and tool failure, and

nonunion are all potential surgical risks. Mechanical treatments, such as leg compression stockings, may help to prevent such issues. There are additional anti-clotting drugs on the market.

Attorneys for Spinal Fractures in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Automobile incidents regularly result in such severe injuries. It is critical to diagnose injuries quickly and get proper care from a trained, competent medical provider. Our lawyers at Warrior Car Accident Lawyers, have years of expertise managing spinal injury cases. We also have excellent ties with several highly trained medical specialists around the Denver/Colorado Springs  region. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Warrior Car Accident Lawyers now for a free, no-obligation consultation: 719-300-1100.

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