Broken backs: What you should expect

A broken back sounds dangerous, and that's because it usually is. A back fracture is when one or more of the vertebrae in the back breaks in some manner. It might be a small, hairline fracture, or it could be completely shattered.

There are 33 bones in the back that protect the spinal cord. While breaking these bones is dangerous, it doesn't necessarily indicate that you'll struggle with paralysis or other injuries from damage to the spinal cord.

What increases the risk of a broken back?

A person might have a higher risk of breaking their back if they struggle with osteoporosis or spinal tumors. It's also more likely if they have a weakened immune system, are obese or are malnourished. The most likely cause is a bad fall or traffic collision. The traumatic injury could be worse if combined with one of the other above conditions.

What are the symptoms of a broken back?

It is most common to feel severe pain when the back is broken. The pain may be worse when you move, which signifies that the vertebrae could have broken.

Keep in mind that there could be numbness instead of pain, too. For instance, if you broke your back and it damaged the spinal cord, there may be a sensation of numbness at the site of the injury. This could extend into other areas of the body.

Another possible symptom is the inability to bend or flex. Flexion is when the spine flexes forward. Unfortunately, back injuries can make it difficult for the spine to bend. If the vertebrae is damaged, it can cause the loss of height or shape of the disc. This results in pain and potential numbness.

How can you best take care of a broken back?

If you have pain in your back or notice an inability to move, it is important to seek out medical care right away. Even if the area is impacting the spinal cord, there is a potential to help it heal if you receive immediate medical care. Sometimes, taking pressure off the nerves, reducing inflammation or resting can help you recover despite a spinal fracture.

Don't ignore your symptoms. If you do, the injury could worsen and reach your spinal cord, even if it did not in the past. Take care of yourself and remember that it will be the at-fault party's responsibility to cover your losses.

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