Fractured vertebrae are breaks in the bones of the spine. They are also called spinal fractures. Fractured vertebrae are most common in the middle back (thoracic spine), low back (lumbar) spine, and where the two areas meet. A break is usually caused by degenerative changes due to aging that weaken and wear down the bones. Traumatic injury can also cause fractured vertebrae and usually requires emergency treatment.
Dignity Health offers a wide range of treatments for back, neck, and spine injuries, including fractured vertebrae, in Arizona to help improve mobility and reduce pain. We also provide specialized rehabilitation for injuries caused by trauma. Call (800) 792-1602 or Find a Doctor at one of our facilities dedicated to orthopedic care:
What Causes Fractured Vertebrae?
Wear and tear related to aging and traumatic injury are the most common causes of fractured vertebrae. Reduced bone density and normal aging puts stress on individual vertebra. As these bones weaken, the spinal column is compressed and small fractures occur.
Traumatic vertebral fractures are usually caused by sports injuries, car accidents, gunshot wounds, and falls from a great height. Falls from a modest height can also cause minor vertebral fractures.
Vertebral fractures that are not caused by an accident or trauma may be a sign of disease, such as cancer.
Symptoms of Spinal Fractures & Fractured Vertebrae
The symptoms of fractured vertebrae depend on the severity of the fracture and if any other injuries occurred at the same time. Generally, fractured vertebrae cause severe back pain that gets worse when you move.
Fractured vertebrae caused by traumatic injury can result in intense pain and loss of movement, tingling, or numbness in the arms and legs. With minor compression fractures, you may only notice mild pain.
Preventing Fractured Vertebrae
Orthopedic physical therapy and exercises can help prevent future problems. To reduce your risk of fractured vertebrae due to aging or trauma:
- Get screened for osteoporosis if you are older than 65.
- Maintain healthy bones with regular exercise and calcium-rich foods or supplements.
- Always use safety and protective equipment when doing activities with the potential for a high-energy fall or impact, such as climbing to a great height or operating machinery.
- Prevent falls by creating a fall-free environment at home and improving your balance and flexibility.
Treatment for Fractured Vertebrae at Dignity Health
Often, fractured vertebrae can be repaired with nonsurgical treatments, including casting, bracing, and physical therapy. Surgery is sometimes needed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord, stabilize the spine, and repair the broken vertebrae. You and your doctor can discuss the right treatment for you — look to Dignity Health for personalized care every step of the way.
Dignity Health hospitals provide orthopedic care, including treatment for fractured vertebrae, in Arizona.