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Spinal Fracture


There is a history of trauma (which may be mild if the person suffers from osteoporosis).  The neck or back will feel stiff and tender.  There may be neurological signs if the spinal cord or nerve roots are affected.

The diagnosis can usually be made based on the history of the condition and by X-ray of the spine.

Occasionally, an X-ray taken soon after the injury may not show the fracture, if there is no displacement to the bone, as there will be little evidence until the bone starts to heal.  If you have suffered trauma and the pain does not start to ease or worsens or you get other signs like tingling, numbness or weakness of arms or legs it is important to return to your G.P. or A&E department for re-assessment.

About Spinal Fractures

You can fracture the bones of your spine just like any other bone.  

Fractures in the thoracolumbar region (where your mid-back and low back come together) are the most common.

Spinal fractures can cause spinal cord injury. Except in certain circumstances (someone has been in a diving accident, and you need to get them out of the water), you should never try to move a person who possibly has a spinal cord injury. Wait for emergency personnel.

Causes of Spinal Fractures

Car and motorbike accidents cause many spinal fractures, including cervical due to severe whiplash, compression fractures and impact fractures.

Falls and sport related impacts also cause fractures.  Dancers and gymnasts are prone to spondylolysis - the fracture of the vertebral pedicals due to excessive backward bending.

Osteoporosis causes weakening of the bone and makes them more prone to fracture, usually compression of the vertebral body causing kyphosis (excessive bending of the ribcage) or Dowager’s hump.