Lumbar (Low Back) Pain Spinal Fracture

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Lumbar Pain Caused by Spinal Fracture

The lumbar spine is built for power and flexibility. The five vertebrae it comprised of control moving, twisting, and bending of the entire body. The lumbosacral joint controls rotation. Due to this flexibility, the lumbar spine can be prone to injuries including spinal fractures.

Spinal Fracture and Lumbar Pain Symptoms

The upper levels of the lumbar spine can be prone to spinal fractures. The majority of those who sustain a spinal fracture however are arthritic patients as well as those with other degenerative spinal conditions. Though spinal fractures do not usually affect they young, they can occur as a result of a traumatic accident or by engaging in risky extreme sporting activities.

Is Lumbar Pain a Symptom of a Spinal Fracture?

The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae (L1-L5) that are referred to as the lower back. These vertebrae work hard to support the body’s weight especially during movements like bending or twisting. The lumbar spine meets the sacrum at the lumbosacral joint (L5-S1). This joint provides for rotation of the body. Due to its flexibility, the lumbar spine is at a great risk for spinal fractures.

Spinal fractures are broken or cracked vertebrae that may have received trauma or become weakened due to degenerative spinal conditions. These fractures are not always recognizable as the pain can mimic other spinal conditions. Patients with spinal arthritis are highly prone to spinal fractures and are susceptible to such fractures at multiple spinal levels. Patients that have suffered any type of spine trauma should have imaging tests performed to confirm spinal fractures are not present.

The symptoms of a spinal fracture in the lumbar spine include acute back pain, eventually becoming chronic if not treated, pain when walking, and limited movement. Patients with arthritic spinal fractures may also experience weakness, numbness, and tingling in these areas of the body, as well as uncontrollable bowels or bladder, if spinal cord damage is also involved.

The causes of a spinal fracture in the lumbar spine include accidents, falls, extreme sports, arthritis, and other degenerative spinal conditions. Imaging tests can be used to detect spinal fractures. Those typically used are x-rays, CT scans, and MRI.

There are different types of spinal fractures based on location. For compression fractures there are three: wedge, crush, and burst. The wedge compression fracture is broken in the front of the vertebra, but remains intact on the back. The crush compression fracture is broken all the way around the vertebra. The burst compression fracture is broken and has lost height by at least 15% to 20% and is unstable.

Some spinal fractures can heal on their own in eight to ten weeks. The patient may take over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs depending on the severity. The physician may also place the patient in a brace to limit mobility during healing.

Fractures that will not heal on their own will require surgery. A surgeon will need to be consulted to discuss the appropriate surgery option.

At a Glance: Symptoms of Spinal Fracture in the Lumbar Spine

  • Acute back pain, eventually becoming chronic
  • Pain when walking or with other spine movements
  • Inability to exercise and limited flexibility due to lumbar pain

Those at Greatest Risk for Developing a Spinal Fracture

  • Arthritis and other degenerative spine conditions
  • Falls
  • Accidents
  • Engaging in Extreme Sports

Health Tips

  • Always eat breakfast
  • Eat your fruit and veg
  • Take time to shop each week
  • Sit down at the table to eat
  • Get adequate rest daily.

Physicians Trained At Renowned Medical Schools

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