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Spinal Fractures Specialist

Spinal fractures may occur as a result of trauma or because your vertebrae are weak due to osteoporosis. If you suffer a spinal fracture, orthopaedic spine specialist Evan O'Brien, MD, and Chris Hennessey, PA, at Woodbury Spine, can help. Their practice in Woodbury, New Jersey, has state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology for assessing injuries, and Dr. O’Brien performs cutting-edge repair procedures. To benefit from their expertise in treating spinal fractures, call Woodbury Spine to schedule an appointment today.

Spinal Fractures Q & A

What are spinal fractures?


Spinal fractures are breaks in the vertebrae that

make up your spinal column. These fractures can

take several forms, and some of the more

common ones are:

Compression fractures

Vertebral compression fractures are most often

a result of loss of bone density, typically from

osteoporosis. When you have osteoporosis, the

vertebrae become so weak that they can fracture

while you're performing everyday activities.

The fractures usually affect the front of your

vertebrae, causing a loss of height, while the

back of the bone remains intact. The result is a

wedge shape that leads to spinal deformity

causing an upper back dowager's hump.

Axial burst fracture

Axial burst fractures most often occur if you fall from height and land on your feet. The impact causes your vertebrae to compress, so they lose height at the front and the back. Sometimes, fragments of the vertebrae separate and injure your spinal cord or the nerves in your spinal canal.

Chance fracture

A Chance fracture results from a violent forward movement that flexes the spine too far, pulling the vertebrae apart. This type of spinal fracture is typical of an auto accident where you have only a lap belt on, so your upper body jerks forward while your pelvis stays still.

What symptoms do spinal fractures cause?

Most spinal fractures are painful, some severely so, and the pain is likely to worsen when you move.

Severe spinal fractures can damage the nerves and, in some cases, the spinal cord itself, causing problems such as:

  • Numbness

  • Tingling

  • Muscle spasms

  • "Pins-and-needles" sensation

  • Weakness

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Fecal incontinence

  • Loss of arm or leg function

Damage to your spinal cord can also result in temporary or permanent paralysis.

Dr. O'Brien diagnoses spinal fractures after examining your back and looking at your X-rays. He may also want you to have a CT scan to see any changes in the bony structures or an MRI to assess the damage to your spinal cord, discs, and the surrounding soft tissues.

How are spinal fractures treated?

The approach Dr. O'Brien takes to treating your spinal fractures depends on the type of fracture, where it is, and the damage involved. If you have a minor fracture, you might need to wear a brace, while a more complex fracture may require surgery.

Vertebral compression fractures are treatable using vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. These minimally invasive procedures are similar. 

With vertebroplasty, Dr. O'Brien fills the damaged vertebrae with bone cement. With kyphoplasty or the SpineJack, he does the same but raises the height of the vertebra first using a balloon or small mechanical jack that raises the collapsed bone before injecting the cement.

If you have symptoms of a spinal fracture, get a prompt diagnosis and the right treatment by calling Woodbury Spine to schedule an appointment today.

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