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Fractures

Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group

Neurological Surgery located in Birmingham, AL

Fracturing a bone anywhere in your body can be extremely painful, but fracturing the vertebrae in your spine is not only painful it’s potentially dangerous. The team of expert spinal surgeons at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group in Birmingham, Alabama, has considerable experience managing spinal fractures. They offer highly advanced surgical options, such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, to restore vertebral height after a compression fracture. Call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group today to find out more about diagnosing and treating spinal fractures.

Fractures Q & A

What are fractures?

Fractures are breaks in your bones. They can vary in severity from tiny hairline fractures to complicated comminuted fractures where the bone breaks into three pieces or more, or to open or compound fractures where the bone is exposed to the air.

Spinal fractures usually fall into one of two categories. Acute spinal fractures like fracture-dislocations and burst fractures typically occur after falling from a height or being in a severe auto accident. 

Severe fractures can result in you having serious injuries where shards of bone penetrate surrounding tissues and the spinal canal or are there are loose pieces of bone present.

The other type of spinal fracture, the compression fracture, is far more common.

What is a compression fracture?

Compression fractures most often affect patients who have osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to gradually weaken and lose their density. Osteoporosis makes you more susceptible to fractures as your bones are too brittle to withstand much pressure. Vertebrae can even fracture during normal daily activities if you have severe osteoporosis.

Compression fractures squash and flatten the vertebrae. Wedge fractures are a common type of compression fracture. They’re so-called because it’s the front of the vertebrae that flattens while the back remains the same height, creating a wedge shape.

You could suffer a crush fracture, which affects the entire vertebra, not just the front. Compression fractures can also burst, causing stray bone fragments.

How are fractures treated?

Spinal fractures that involve severe injuries such as a burst fracture or fracture-dislocation usually require emergency surgery to prevent bone fragments from damaging other structures nearby, particularly the spinal cord.

Compression fractures caused by osteoporosis aren’t usually emergencies, but they can be a challenge to treat because of poor bone quality. Initial treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Physical therapy

If your fractured vertebra is still painful after following these conservative approaches, the team of expert spinal surgeons at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group can discuss surgical options with you.

The aim of surgery for compression fractures like wedge fractures is to restore the height of your vertebrae. Wedge-shaped vertebrae cause the spine to curve, creating what’s known as a dowager’s hump in people who have advanced osteoporosis.

The Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group uses two advanced forms of surgery for compression fractures:

Vertebroplasty 

Minimally invasive vertebroplasty involves your surgeon injecting a kind of special bone cement into your fractured vertebra. The cement stabilizes the vertebra and reduces or relieves pain.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty. However, when performing kyphoplasty, your surgeon inserts a special balloon into the vertebra they inflate to restore height before injecting the special cement.

Call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group today to find out more about spinal fractures.