Friday, October 19, 2018
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Brain & Spine Disorders

Low Back Trauma

It is impossible to predict how badly someone's spine has been injured before a doctor has evaluated them. Therefore, everyone who is involved in an accident that could have damaged their back is treated as if they do have an injury to their spine. Most people are familiar with the "backboards" that paramedics use to transport accident victims, but they are unaware of how important these devices are in keeping the spine stable while they are taken to the hospital.

Paramedics and emergency response teams treat accident victims according to strict protocols that have been developed in order to save lives. These protocols are designed to minimize the possibility that someone with a spine injury could be injured while moving him or her from the accident scene or while taking them to a hospital. With these protocols, cervical collars are placed on all accident victims, they are secured on a back-board, and then taken to a hospital for further evaluation.

Spinal Cord Injuries
Each year in the United Sates, there will be approximately 50,000 new spinal cord injuries caused by accidents. A spinal cord injury occurs when the cord itself is crushed, stretched, or torn by the accident.

Unfortunately, this is still an injury that can not be reversed or cured by modern medicine. More than half of these injuries involves the cervical spine, and most of them happen to young men. These injuries are incredibly devastating to the patient, their families, and also to their communities. There is currently a lot of research being done on ways to minimize spine injuries by designing cars for better safety, improving protective gear like football helmets, and educating people about the dangers of certain activities.

There is also a lot of research being done on how to care for someone immediately after they have had a spinal cord injury, and also what kind of rehabilitation is best for them.

Compression Fractures
The most common types of fractures affecting the low back are compression fractures which usually result from a fall. They can be diagnosed with an x-ray. With most compression fractures, bed rest, physical therapy and conservative medical care is effective. However, there is a small chance that the compression fracture could be caused by a secondary medical condition. Usually your physician will give you a thorough neurological and physical exam in order to rule out osteoporosis or malignancy.

Burst FracturesBurst Fractures
Burst fractures usually occur through a violent compressive load resulting in failure of both the anterior and middle columns of the vertebrae. In this case vertebral height is significantly decreased. This fracture is considered unstable and requires immediate stabilization of the body and medical attention.


Flexion/Compression Fracture Flexion/Compression Fracture
Flexion and compression fractures frequently occur at the T1 and L1 levels. The amount of anterior column failure depends on the amount of compressive force. Usually there is some loss of vertebral height with this injury, but as long as the middle and posterior columns are intact, this fracture is considered stable.

Flexion/Distraction Fracture Flexion/Distraction Fracture
This type of fracture is also known as a chance fracture, and is often caused by seat belts in cars. In this fracture, all three columns of the vertebral body can fail and there may be injury to bone, ligaments and discs. An interior subluxation is often encountered. This fracture is considered unstable and required immediate stabilization of the body and medical attention.

Compression/Torsion/Translational Fractures Compression/Torsion/Translational Fractures
Usually coupled together with or without flexion. Compression effects can occur on the lateral margins of the vertebral body while torsional and translational forces may affect the body or disc and ligament structures.

Low Back Pain (Overview)

Low Back Pain & Disorders (Lumbar Spine)


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