A broken or fractured bone is always a serious health matter. But spinal fractures are especially a cause for concern. Not only does this result in immediate pain and lessened mobility, but almost all types of spinal fractures can lead to spinal cord injury.
Damage to the spinal cord can cause permanent numbness or paralysis, spasms, breathing problems, infections, and more complications. Physical therapy can play an important role in supporting the spine and spinal cord after an injury, speeding healing, and reducing the likelihood of complications or later injury.
JAG PT is the tri-state area’s foremost source for spinal rehabilitation physical therapy – our expert therapy staff is always ready to devise a unique treatment plan that works for your condition and your lifestyle. Putting off treatment for a spinal fracture could put your health at risk long term as well as continuing your pain – so it’s imperative to seek rehabilitation as soon as your physician says you’re able to do so.
Spinal Fracture Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a spinal fracture go beyond the obvious. There are many classifications of spinal fracture depending upon the location and type of injury, and all of them may have different symptoms. There are the same results as breaking any other bone, of course – including pain and immobility – but the spine protects the spinal cord, one of the most important parts of our nervous system. If something goes wrong for the spinal cord, the consequences can be serious. Learn more below, or schedule an appointment at your local JAG PT clinic today for your initial evaluation.
Back or Neck Pain
Depending on what vertebrae are fractured, pain in different parts of the back and neck can result. Damage to the cervical vertebrae (in the neck itself) will affect head movement, and fractures to the bottom of the spine are more likely to negatively affect walking.
Numbness and Weakness
The spinal cord provides neural function to specific sections of the skin, called the dermatomes. A spinal injury affecting a particular spinal nerve can cause the dermatome to which that nerve is related to become numb or lose sensation, making it difficult to use that part of the body as well as risking injury to that body area due to the inability to feel pain.
A tingling sensation may not seem all that serious – after all, it’s probably not outright painful. However, in the case of a spinal fracture, it’s a sign of injury or pressure on the spinal cord and should be evaluated. Tingling can be irritating and affect your mental and physical performance over time.
Bowel or Bladder Changes
Injury to the lumbar or sacral (low-back or base) areas of the spine has the potential to result in fecal or urinary incontinence, since the excretory system is regulated by nerves in these areas. These symptoms are indicative of a potentially very dangerous injury, and physical therapy can sometimes be helpful in rehabilitating from bowel or bladder issues resulting from spinal damage.
The most severe medical condition that can result from a spinal fracture is paralysis. Although this is a relatively rare symptom that typically is caused only by the most severe spinal damage, it’s still a concern.
Spinal Fracture Diagnosis
If a person suffers a traumatic back injury, such as a car accident or a fall from a height, a doctor will give them a radiographic evaluation (X-ray, CT scan, or MRI). This will allow the doctor to see if the spine has been fractured and, if so, in which vertebrae. A neurological assessment is also typically necessary.
Spinal Fracture Treatment in NY, NJ, and PA
JAG PT uses a range of methods to help people heal from spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries. Among others, these may include general spine rehabilitation practices like guided exercise and manual stretching to improve strength and stability in the back muscles, thus supporting the spine as it recovers. We also offer slip and fall prevention to mitigate the risk of re-injuring the spine or exacerbating the condition, occupational therapy to help train in the use of braces and custom adaptive devices, and more. In severe spinal fracture cases, when surgery is required, our pre- and post-operative PT program helps improve outcomes and recovery times.
See a Physical Therapist to Treat or Prevent Spinal Fractures
JAG PT has over 100 locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and is always there to help on your spinal injury rehabilitation journey. Don’t delay the treatment that can help your life get back to normal – find a location near you or book an appointment today.