Spine fracture: symptoms, treatment and recovery

Fracture of the vertebral column is a serious problem that can cause permanent paralysis of the legs or body, depending on the affected vertebra.

Generally, fractures in the vertebral column are caused by traffic accidents, falls from great heights or sports accidents; however, this type of lesion can also arise spontaneously in patients with osteoporosis or bone tumors due to the weakening of the bones of the spine.

Jewett's Corset

Jewett’s Corset

The main symptom of a spinal fracture of traumatic origin is pain in the injured area; without embargo, you can also present pain in the chair, the abdomen or the muslo.

In addition, in cases where there is compression of the nerves at the fracture site, swelling, tingling sensations or muscular weakness could occur, apart from urinary or fecal incontinence or inability to urinate. On the other hand, in cases of fracture of the spine due to osteoporosis, people do not present symptoms or, if they are, they are very mild.

Therefore, it is recommended to consult the traumatologist whenever there are symptoms so that he can carry out the diagnostic procedures, identify the fracture and indicate the most appropriate treatment.

The treatment always requires starting in the hospital and being guided by a traumatologist, it may vary according to the degree of the injury, without embargo, if the following procedures are included:

  • use of it corset from Jewett, collar or plaster: used in cases of spinal fracture without spinal cord injuries. Normally, this type of conservative treatment must be maintained for 8 to 12 weeks, until the vertebrae heal;
  • Surgery: It is carried out in case of serious fractures and when the spinal cord is affected, using a metal support similar to screws, which aligns the spine and supports the body weight.

During recovery, you should remain in complete rest for the first week and slowly start lighter daily activities, such as walking and sitting, avoiding heavy exercises such as running, swimming and lifting weights, and following all the doctor’s instructions.

When the treatment is not carried out adequately, even in light injuries, the fracture may worsen and, in these cases, there may be a risk of paralysis, even if the cord was not initially affected.

When to perform physiotherapy

However, if it is necessary to remain at rest, the orthopedist may indicate that physiotherapy sessions are carried out to facilitate circulation and prevent muscle atrophy or the emergence of bedsores. Asimismo, on certain occasions, the physiotherapist can use a magnetotherapy device called magnetron, which stimulates the formation of hueso, facilitating the consolidation of the fracture.

The physiotherapist can even perform respiratory exercises to expel secretions that accumulate in the lungs and prevent respiratory infections.

Among the precautions that help to avoid complications and accelerate the recovery of the vertebrae include the following:

  • Remain in complete rest in bed in the first days, doing only the movements allowed by the traumatologist;
  • Keep the legs slightly elevated, using 2 pillows per foot to facilitate circulation;
  • Slowly start daily activities, low the doctor’s indication and avoiding more intense exercises like running or swimming, for example;
  • Avoid making sudden movements with the column, how to rotate el cuello or la espalda.

Simismo, hydrotherapy, which is a milder type of physiotherapy that is carried out in water, can be an excellent option to accelerate the recovery process, as it allows you to work and strengthen the muscles of the spine without causing pain.

During the recovery period, it is also important to have a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, in order not to gain weight and to help strengthen the bones, especially in the case of major people with a fractured spine due to osteoporosis .

For complete recovery from surgery, and according to medical guidelines, it is recommended to eat foods rich in calcium and to practice exercises gradually and regularly to strengthen your muscles.

When an injury occurs in this area, the spinal cord, which is a group of nerves that runs inside the spine, can be injured and affect the movements of the body parts below this point. In this way, a fracture in the spine in the cervical portion (shoulder) can cause total paralysis of the body, while a fracture in the spine in the thoracic or lumbar portion (lower back) can cause paralysis in the legs.

In general, the complications of the fracture in the spine arise immediately after the accident, during the transfer to the hospital or in the first hours after the beginning of the treatment.

Anatomy of the spine

Fractures in the spine can affect the ground and the skin without causing injuries to the interior of the spinal cord. In these cases, there are no serious sequelae, such as paralysis, and it is only necessary to remain at rest and carry out the treatment, under the indications of the orthopedist, so that the condition of the spine recovers.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified with your trusted doctor, this being just a vehicle for basics about certain healthy behaviors, conscious food consumption and other notions. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance.

Disclaimer – (Portuguese version>) Este conteúdo foi elaborado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou pelo trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário de Trata-se de um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É fortemente recomendado que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam cuidadosamente verificados com seu médico de confiança, sendo este apenas um veículo para noções básicas sobre determinados comportamentos saudáveis, consumo consciente de alimentos e outras noções. Nunca permitimos recomendação de medicamentos, bulas de remédios ou qualquer orientação medicamentosa.

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