At The Sevey Law Firm, we want our clients to be informed and involved in the details of their cases. If you have hurt your spine in an accident, we are ready to help you understand your rights and legal options. Below is more information on vertebral fractures, their causes, symptoms, and how an attorney can help you if you were hurt in an accident.
What is a Vertebral Fracture?
The vertebrae, or spinal column, is made up of twenty-two bones that extend from the lower neck to the lower back. It serves two primary functions: as the structural core of the upper skeleton and serves as the “pipeline” for our spinal cord.
When a vertebra is fractured, the bone is cracked or split into two or more pieces which may ultimately damage the spinal cord. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord, which is the primary nerve for the entire body. Injury to the spinal cord may result in additional concerns, including but not limited to paralysis. Vertebral fractures occur in one of three regions of the vertebrae, which are:
- The cervical vertebrae, located near the neck;
- The thoracic vertebrae, which comprise the middle portion;
- The lumbar vertebrae, which makes up the lower part of the spine; this area is most subject to injury and paralysis can be a result.
Fractures of the spine are usually attributed to major trauma and may be responsible for further damage to the spinal cord. Any section of the vertebral column may be damaged and injury to any part of the column could have a lasting impact on the victim’s life.
One-third of all vertebral fractures occur in car accidents. Other causes include sports injuries and workplace accidents.
As a result of these injuries, it can prove very costly to sustain the injured due to medical costs and treatments. The average financial cost of paralysis is two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) for the first twelve months of injury and then twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) per additional year.
All told, the costs could add up to at least five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) for the lifetime care of an individual who is paralyzed and much more depending on the age of the person at the time of injury. Further, life expectancy may decrease as a result of any vertebral fracture and spinal cord injuries.
Symptoms of a Vertebral Fracture
Signs of a vertebral fracture may include some of the following:
- Weakness and fatigue;
- Numbness and tingling of the extremities;
- Spinal shock which could lead to some paralysis;
- Injuries to the lower spinal cord may bring tingling and paralysis to the lower portion of the body
A minor compression fracture of the vertebrae doesn’t usually affect other regions of the body and likely involves only localized pain. The condition becomes more serious when the spinal cord is impinged due to a fracture.
Diagnosis of a Vertebral Fracture
When a doctor suspects that a vertebra may be fractured, they may order blood tests to determine if there have been any injuries sustained to the internal organs. There may be other tests run to determine the extent of any injury including but not limited to the following:
- Urinalysis to determine if kidney injury is present;
- Tests on pancreatic fluid levels to assess injury;
- Cardiac tests to rule out any cardiac contusion;
- Bone testing to rule out resulting any crush injury;
- And pregnancy testing for female clients
Imaging tests such as X-rays are used to determine the scope of the vertebral fracture and to determine if there is any damage to the spinal cord. X-rays are used to identify most fractures, but they may not reveal nondisplaced or hairline fractures.
As a result, a CT scan (computed tomography) may assist your physician in locating fractures that are harder to detect as mentioned above. Finally, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be ordered to determine if any injury has been done to the spinal cord. MRI seems to be most effective method for detecting small lesions and “pinches” of tissue in the spinal cord.
Management (Surgical and Non-Surgical) of Vertebral Fractures
Minor vertebral fractures are usually treated on a nonsurgical basis. Some treatments include the use of a vest or a brace to reduce torque and strain and also to prevent any bending of the spine. Further stabilization is required for those with spinal cord injuries or paralysis.
Surgical management techniques are implemented when the spinal cord is infringed or compressed. They are also used to realign and reduce stress on the vertebral column itself. There are three surgical approaches to treating vertebral fractures:
- Posterior approach: This approach is used to handle minor fractures. Usually, there is little to no damage to the spine, and mobilization of the patient can take place sooner rather than later.
- Posterolateral approach: This approach involves surgical treatment of the thoracic (middle) portion of the vertebrae and is often combined with the posterior approach;
- Anterior approach: This approach gives doctors access to the entire vertebral column and is only used when the spinal cord itself has suffered trauma and requires decompression.
The four basic types of surgical tools used to treat vertebral fractures are:
- Fusion: screws are inserted into the patient to promote bone fusion and increase overall stability;
- Posterior rods: Metal rods are inserted to address multiple vertebral fractures or fractures that need additional stability;
- Anterior plating: Plates are adhered to the fractures to provide stability and promote fusion and healing;
- Cage: a metal cage is placed on the patient to ensure no bending or unwanted movement occurs during the healing process.
Compensation for Your Vertebral Fracture Injury Claim
At The Sevey Law Firm, we want our clients to receive fair and just compensation for their vertebral injuries. If you suffered a vertebral fracture in an accident that was not your fault, you could be eligible for compensation including:
- Current medical bills: We can recover the cost of all medical bills up to the time of disposition of your case;
- Future medical bills: Vertebral injuries can and do lead to future medical costs; rest assured we address your future medical care as part of your settlement;
- Lost wages: We understand you weren’t able to collect your paychecks during this traumatic time and we can recover monies you would have earned but for your injury;
- Future income: We will help to formulate what money you may lose as a result of your injury due to future inability to work;
- Pain and Suffering: We may be able to recover compensation for any trauma and suffering as a result of your injury.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Since 2005, the personal injury lawyers at The Sevey Law Firm have been helping people just like you get the compensation they need after an injury accident. We put ourselves in your shoes, and we will work hard to make sure that you do not suffer any longer due to someone else’s negligent actions. If you suffered a vertebral fracture in a car wreck, an accident in the workplace, or other reasons, we are here to help. Contact us at (916) 788-7100, fill out a contact form on our site, or chat with us live to schedule a free analysis of your case today.