Car accidents and spinal fractures

Missouri residents may not know that a car accident is a common cause of a spinal fracture, and fractures in the middle or lower back are the most common types. These are known respectively as thoracic and lumbar fractures. Men are four times more likely to get these fractures than women, and they are often accompanied by other injuries due to the force that is required to inflict them.

An extension fracture pattern in which the vertebra is pulled apart is the most likely type of spinal fracture to occur in a car accident. The other two types are flexion and rotation. Severe back pain is the main symptom of this type of injury, but if the fracture is accompanied by damage to the spinal cord, other symptoms such as tingling and numbness may occur. These fractures can have fatal complications such as blood clots.

An accident victim who has been injured in this way must generally be immobilized on a backboard and in a neck collar at the scene. Treatment may be surgical or nonsurgical. Surgery is for cases that cannot be healed in 12 weeks with a brace and may involve metal rods, screws or cages. Whether the treatment is surgical or nonsurgical, the victim will need a period of rehabilitation.

A fracture of this nature and the injuries that accompany it can be life-changing. Even if the victim eventually makes a full recovery, the injury is serious and the recovery period lengthy. This means that in addition to medical expenses, the victim may miss a significant amount of work. Those who incur this type of injury in a car crash may want to consult an attorney about filing a lawsuit against the person whose negligence was the cause of the accident.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Fractures of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine”, February 2010