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Symptoms and treatment of spinal fractures from car accidents

Spinal fractures are serious injuries and most often occur in the mid-back (thoracic spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). Connecticut motorists might not know that these types of spinal fractures are often the result of high-impact traffic collisions, although falls from high places, sports accidents and other traumas may also be causes.

The main symptom of spinal fractures is severe pain in the back that intensifies with movement. When damage is also caused to the spinal cord, the victim may feel weakness, tingling and numbness. Sometimes, loss of bladder and bowel control can occur. Serious cases of spinal fracture could be compounded with brain injuries and other distracting injuries that overwhelm the back pain, making the diagnosis more difficult.

The treatment implemented for a spinal fracture resulting from a motor vehicle accident depends on the other injuries involved and the pattern of the fracture. Compression and burst fractures, for example, are categorized as flexion pattern fractures. The victim may be required to wear a brace for six to 12 weeks along with undergoing rehabilitation and increasing physical activity. Unstable burst fractures, however, may require surgery to stabilize the spine. The treatment of an extension pattern fracture depends on the location of the injury and whether or not a cast or brace can fit the bone together again. The cast or brace is worn for up to 12 weeks, but if this course of treatment will not be sufficient, surgery could be recommended. Fracture dislocations and transverse process fractures are categorized as rotational pattern fractures. While fracture dislocations are generally unstable and require surgery, transverse process fractures may heal with or without a brace.

Car accident victims in Connecticut who suffer spinal fractures as a result of the negligence of another driver may seek to recover their damages, which might include medical and rehabilitation costs. An attorney can assist an injured client in that regard through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Fractures of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine," February 2010

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