Spinal fractures are extremely serious injuries. They most commonly occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine and are usually caused by high impact and sudden forces exerted on the spine such as a car accident or a fall from high altitudes. Men are more vulnerable to either thoracic or lumbar spine fractures up to four times than that of women and the elderly are also at a higher risk due to their loss in bone density due to osteoporosis. Our bones have excellent compressive strength and a large amount of energy is required to fracture it. This would also mean that when there is lumbar or thoracic spine fracture, the surrounding soft tissues as well as the spine will definitely be injured as well, and the extent of the injury is directly proportional to the force acting on the back.
Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are often caused by high impact and sudden forces as mentioned previously and some commonly examples are automobile accidents, falling from great heights, injuries from high impact sports such as rugby and violent acts such as from a gunshot. Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are not only caused by trauma. They can be caused by ageing diseases such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis reduces bone density and places the patient at a high risk of bone fractures.
Some common symptoms associated with Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures include severe pain, numbness, heavy breathing, loss of strength and loss of bladder and bowel control. Loss of bladder and bowel control are symptoms of spinal injury and if this symptom is observed, the patient must be sent to the A&E department immediately without further delay. The surrounding tissues will definitely be injured and patients may complain of muscle pain or aches which may sometime even overwhelm the back pain. This is extremely distracting and can possibly “cover up” the spinal injury and result in delayed diagnosis. Depending on the nature of the injury, some patients may even lose consciousness or have a partial memory loss. As a rule of thumb, patients who are involved in automobile accidents are automatically identified as patients with spinal injuries due to the high impact forces sustained during an automobile accident.
No matter how serious the injury is, the patient will require a lengthy rehabilitation process to allow them to regain mobility and reduce the severity of pain. If the injury was too serious, patients may lose some of their senses due to nerve injury.