There are three basic types of spinal fractures:
- Flexion fractures
- Extension fractures
- Rotational fractures
In this article, we will discuss flexion fractures.
Our Buchanan County, MO auto accident lawyers often advise Missouri accident victims to go to the emergency room to be screened for potentially serious hidden injuries. Flexion vertebral fractures are one of these hidden injuries.
Flexion fractures occur when the body is thrown forward and back in a high speed Missouri car crash. They are very common in children that are using a lap-only seat belt.
At the time of the accident, there may be no symptoms. However, if a flexion vertebral fracture is not treated, the victim will start to notice pain that becomes severe over time. They may also have stooped posture and a loss of height. In some cases, there may be nerve injury.
Flexion fractures are divided into two categories:
- Compression fractures: These fractures involve the front of the vertebra. The front breaks and loses height, while the back remains undamaged. These fractures are very common when accident victims wear a lap-only seat belt.
- Axial burst fractures: In these fractures, the vertebra breaks and loses height on both sides. These types of fractures are rare in Missouri car crashes; they usually occur when an accident victim falls from a height and lands on his feet.
Treatment of flexion fractures depends upon the amount of damage. Most Missouri car accident victims with flexion vertebral fractures can be treated without surgery. They will need to wear a back brace for six to twelve weeks. During this time, the victim will work with a physical therapist to gradually increase physical activity.
In some cases, surgery is necessary. A doctor will recommend surgery for the following situations:
- There is significant comminution; the fracture involves a lot of bone fragments.
- There is a severe loss of height.
- The victim's posture is extremely crooked or stooped because of the injury.
- There is significant nerve injury.
A surgical procedure called a laminectomy is used to remove bone that is pressing on the spinal cord. Doctors make small incisions on either side of the back in order to access the spinal cord. There is a risk of bleeding, infection, blood clots, nerve injury, or spinal fluid leak; however, laminectomy is considered a relatively safe procedure.
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