Signs & symptoms of spinal trauma
Spinal trauma often results in severe pain at the site of injury, which may result in limited spinal mobility or loss of regular functions. It can also result in headache, muscular weakness and spasms, and trouble breathing. However, some forms of fracture may appear slowly caused by repetitive activities, which often results in less pain and side effects. Some patients even report that they experienced little to no pain and do not realise they have spinal trauma until an obvious deformity or loss of height develops.
The spine plays an important role in bodily functions, and spine trauma left untreated can lead to severe complications. These can include unnecessary pain, higher likelihood of future spinal injuries becoming more severe, loss of functions, paralysis, difficulty sleeping and carrying out your daily activities, muscle spasms, and trouble breathing. If multiple fractures are left untreated, there can be a noticeable difference in your posture and height due to the collapse of vertebrae.
Having a pre-existing bone or joint disorder (such as osteoporosis) greatly heightens your risk of spinal fractures, and can result in severe trauma from a seemingly minor incident such as a fall. As the hormone changes triggered during menopause can result in the weakening of bone structures, spinal trauma is more common in women over the age of 50. Some types of cancer can also cause the vertebrae to weaken and increase the likelihood of fractures developing.
To determine the severity of your spinal trauma, diagnostic imaging is critical. Your GP or healthcare professional will usually refer an MRI or x-ray, but other forms of diagnostics including CT scans or ultrasound may also be used, depending on the circumstance.
Spinal fractures can be treated non-surgically with bracing, lifestyle modifications, and physical or occupational therapy. However, severe injuries will likely require surgical intervention. Surgical methods can help restore vertebral body height, decompress pressured nerves, or can fuse vertebrae together to improve the stability of the damaged vertebrae. Your surgeon will assess your individual condition and help you to decide which option will best benefit your condition and ensure the best long-term results.
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