5 Ways to Detect a Spine Fracture

Christina Lasich, MD Health Pro January 27, 2013
  • A fragile fracture of the spine can go undetected for a long period of time. These fractures lack the drama of a broken leg or broken arm. Furthermore, these fractures are not usually caused by a life-altering trauma or incident. No, these fractures are more the quiet-types sitting in the corner of someone’s life. You can detect a fracture of the spine if you look for these five signs.

     

    •    Pain with breathing, coughing or laughing: Because osteoporosis-related fractures often involves the thoracic spine, a portion of the spine that joins with the chest wall, sudden chest wall movements like deep breathes, sudden coughs or bursts of laughter will aggravate this area of the spine that may have been fractured.
    • Pain with bending or lifting:  Compression fractures of the spine occur in the front of the spinal column. This area is under the greatest amount of stress when bending forward or lifting; thus, pain during these activities is a reliable sign that the spine may be fractured, especially in someone with osteoporosis.
    • Swelling: Any swelling in the area of the spine could be related to an undetected spine fracture and should be evaluated by your doctor immediately.
    • Change in posture or stature: Spine fractures can occur in numbers and greatly affect the posture and/or stature. A hump or c-shaped curvature is commonly caused by osteoporosis-related fractures of the spine. Loss in height over time occurs naturally, but is also caused by spine fractures as well. Changes in the spine that are rapidly progressive are of greatest concern.
    • Numbness, tingling, and/or weakness: Because the spinal cord is nearby, any spine fractures have the potential to cause nerve damage. Numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms, hands, legs or feet should be evaluated by your healthcare provider.

     

    For further reading about the topic of spine fractures and compression spine fractures, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon’s has good information about Spine Fractures and Osteoporosis-related Fractures.

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