Vertebral compression fractures are often a result of automobile accidents.
Our spine is made up of 33 vertebrae, and like any other bone in the body, these too can break due to trauma. A vertebral compression fracture occurs when one or more vertebrae collapses in height because of a fracture in the vertebrae. These fractures occur most commonly in the thoracic spine (the middle of the back).
A vertebral compression fracture can be an extremely serious injury, because vertebrae protect the spinal cord and a severe compression fracture can the bone to break into fragments or displace it into the spinal cord where it can put pressure on the spinal cord. This can result in partial or complete paralysis.
Cause of vertebral compression fractures
Most compression fractures are a result of blunt force trauma sustained in car accidents. The vertebrae are like any other bones in the body, and can withstand considerable amounts of pressure without breaking. However, compression fractures can result if the force of the impact is too great, or if bones of the bones are not healthy enough. Those who suffer from severe osteoporosis are more prone to compression fractures.
When a car accident victim with osteoporosis suffers a compression fracture, the insurance company may try to contend that the cause of compression fracture is osteoporosis and not the car accident. In such cases, testimony from medical experts may be necessary to prove that the injury is a result of the car accident trauma.
Common symptoms of vertebral compression fractures
- Pain in arms, shoulders, back, neck, legs, and buttocks
- Numbness, tingling and weakness in extremities
- Difficulty walking
- Deformity of the spine
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Pain relief when lying down
- Pain that worsens when running, jumping, walking or even standing up
- Stomach pain
- Breathing problems
Diagnosing vertebral compression fractures
The first step to diagnosing a compression fracture is a physical examination. It will help pinpoint the location of injury.
The existence and extent of vertebral compression fractures can be diagnosed with the help of various imaging test. When a car accident victim complains of the aforementioned symptoms, the doctor may order an X-ray to detect the presence of a compression fracture. If they find a compression fracture, they may order a CT scan to find out if the fracture is stable or not, and whether or not it is putting any pressure on the surrounding nerves.
If the doctor is not sure about which nerves are affected, and what the extent of nerve damage is, they may order an MRI. It will show soft tissues such as tendons, discs, ligaments, and nerves.
Suffered vertebral compression fracture in a car accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, it is in your best interests to speak a competent St. Louis auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call 24/7, nights and weekends, at (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.