Spine trauma occurs when the spine is damaged from a blow or cut, typically caused by car accidents, falls, or sports injuries, which result in a fracture to the vertebrae.
Spine trauma can occur anywhere along the spine – from the cervical spine (neck) to the lumbar spine (lower back) and sacrum (bottom of the spinal column).
The first sign of a spine fracture is usually pain. However, if the spinal cord itself has been injured, signs can also include weakness, paralysis, and lack of sensation.
The goal in treating spine trauma is to realign the fractures and keep them in alignment until the bones have healed. Less traumatic fractures often respond well to external bracing. Other fractures may require surgical stabilization with implanted screws, hooks, connecting rods, or surgical fusion.
For patients who suffer neurologic injury, surgery is usually necessary in order to remove any bone or disc material that may be compressing the spinal cord and to stabilize the spine to minimize additional trauma.