Thoracic Spine Fracture: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

by Administrator 30. October 2017 07:02

Thoracic spine fractures are serious type of injuries that can result in permanent neurological injuries and damage. The thoracic spine is the upper part of the spine that has twelve vertebrae. The vertebral bones are wedge shaped and a normal spine has a kyphotic curve ranging between 18 to 50 degrees.  Fractures may occur in the thoracic or lumbar regions of the spine or at the point of confluence- thoracolumbar joint. Sometimes low impact activities (twisting or turning) may also cause bone damage in the spine but it does not get noticed as it may be asymptomatic. Over the years, the bone may become weak and breaks down resulting in thoracic fractures. The injury can be treated and the method adopted depends on the severity of the injury. In some cases, a thoracic fracture may be accompanied by other injuries to the brain or other body parts.

Causes

  • High impact or energy trauma caused by vehicular accident
  • Falling from a considerable height
  • Injuries incurred while playing a sport
  • Direct hit to the thoracic spine
  • Bullet injury
  • Osteoporosis may weaken the spinal bones resulting in fractures
  • Spinal tumors
  • Elderly women are more susceptible to this condition

Symptoms

  • Pain is felt in the back and it may be mild or intense
  • Movement aggravates the pain
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction may be reported in some cases
  • Numbness in the spine and lower extremities
  • Tingling sensation in the spine, legs, arms
  • The limbs may become weak and lose their strength to perform basic tasks
  • Tenderness near the affected vertebrae

Diagnosis

  • The patient needs to be immobilized using a neck brace and transported to an emergency room
  • A thorough physical check from head to toe is performed to check for loss of function or sensation in any part of the body
  • Neurological tests are conducted
  • X-ray imaging is required
  • CT scan or an MRI may be required to diagnose soft tissue and nerve injury
  • Evaluation of the patient’s medical history and symptoms
  • Bone scan may help determine the age of the fracture

Treatment

  • Use of a back brace for 6-10 weeks to stabilize and support the spine
  • Prescription of pain killers, anti-inflammatory medicines and muscle relaxants
  • Strenuous activities need to be avoided
  • Recommendation of a special rehabilitation program
  • Surgical decompression of the spine also referred to as Laminectomy
  • Surgical insertion of metal rods, pins and screws to stabilize the spine
  • Surgical bone graft to strengthen the vertebrae or to fuse them into a single solid bone
  • Physical therapy is required post-surgery to enable the patient to resume normal physical activities

Tags: ,