What is Vertebral Injury?

The human vertebral region is organized into categories. The severity of the dysfunction caused due to a vertebral injury increases depending on the category. If the vertebral injury is on the higher side the severity increases. Few vertebral Injuries are caused due to diseases such as osteoporosis and others might be caused due to severe trauma which needs emergency treatment. Majority of the vertebral injuries take place in the lower back region (lumbar region) and mid back region (thoracic region) or at the point of contact of these two regions which is called as the junction of thorco-lumbar. Depending on the region and severity the treatment mode is decided by your specialist.

What is Vertebral Injury?

What are the Causes of Vertebral Injury?

A vertebral injury is caused most often by physical damage to the spine. Forces involved which causes vertebral injury can be hyper flexion, hyper extension, lateral stress, rotation, compression or distraction. Traumatic vertebral injury can lead to compression, contusion or even stretch vertebral injury.

Motor vehicle accidents or MVA or car accidents are the major causes of vertebral injury followed by falls/drop, then comes violence like wounds which come from a gun-shot, and also injuries from sports. In few nations falls/drops are higher than a motor vehicle accident. Violence related vertebral injury depends highly on time and place. Sports related vertebral injury is the most frequent reason in the shallow water dives. Hanging may also cause vertebral injury as it may occur during a suicide attempt. Military combat are also identified with high rates of vertebral injury. Other possible cause of a vertebral injury is iatrogenic damage that is the source of an improper medical process such as injecting inside the human spinal column. Vertebral injury can also belong to non-traumatic cause. Non-traumatic bruises are caused somewhere around 30 percent to 80 percent of all vertebral injuries which is a percentage that varies by locality that is effected by an attempt to avoid injury.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Vertebral Injury?

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Vertebral Injury?

Signs and symptoms of the vertebral injury can include pain or the development of neural deficits that include the following:

  • Weakness in the injured region is a symptom of vertebral injury.
  • Numbness, tingling sensations are another major symptoms of a vertebral injury.
  • Neurogenic shock, hypertension is associated in this with relative bradycardia as a result of autonomic hyporeflexia.
  • Spinal bow/shock leads to a brief loss of the spinal reflex activity that happens during the total vertebral injury; initially results in hyporeflexia and flaccid paralysis; with time the descending inhibitory influence is removed and hyperreflexive arches, even spasticity might develop. A damage to the lumbosacral vertebrae or thoracic vertebrae would likely result in a neural deficits at the, genital area, trunk & lower extremities. Particular diseases such as anterior cord syndrome and brown sequard syndrome might affect a larger part of the human spinal cord region.

What are the Risk Factors Involved in Vertebral Injury?

Age is a risk factor for vertebral injury as people aged between the age 18 to 35 are more likely to sustain vertebral injury from a car or motorcycle accident and the elderly are more likely to become injured in falls. Athletes are also at increased risk of vertebral injury particularly to gymnastics, skiers, hockey players, divers and surfers. Patients who have diseases that affect the bones and joints are more susceptible to vertebral injury. Other risk factors for vertebral injury include diseases like cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.

What are the Complications of Vertebral Injury?

Complications of the vertebral injury include neurogenic shock and paralysis below the injury site, problems breathing and failure of respiratory system. In long term the loss of muscle functions can have additional effects from disuse, including atrophy of the muscle. Immobility also results to pressure sores particularly in bony areas that require extra precautions such as cushioning and turning in bed after every two hours in the acute setting to relieve pressure. This also applies to those who use wheelchairs also in long term.

Pain is also a complication of vertebral injury and includes nociceptive pain; that indicates acute tissue damage, and neuropathic pain; when nerves are affected by damage convey erroneous pain signals in absence of noxious stimuli.

What Tests are Conducted to Diagnose Vertebral Injury?

Tests to determine damage to the human spinal cord caused in vertebral injury and its location can be done through radiographic estimation by making use of CT (Computed tomography) scan, X ray or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging). The usage of X rays are common as they can find out instability or the non-alignment of the human spinal column but disadvantageous as they will not provide detailed images & will fail to provide detailed damage to the human spinal cord or even the displacement of the disks or ligaments which does not come after human spinal column injury. However the vertebral injury can still be detected due to the pains or symptoms as X rays findings are very normal. Instead the CT (computed tomography) or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scans are used.

CT scan gives more details than the X rays but exposes the patient to more radiation and still may not provide images of the human spinal cord and only MRI that gives details of the body structures clearly and best. Therefore this is suitable for anyone with a neurological disorder found in vertebral injury or assumes to have unstable human spinal column damage.

What is the Treatment for Vertebral Injury?

The treatment to the vertebral injury depends on the region and the seriousness of the vertebral injury. People who have a vertebral injury because of accident should not be moved apart by the emergency personnel. The first thing of all is to make sure the victim is breathing so as to prevent further damage. This is only restricted to the emergency personnel as he or she can take great care to keep the victims neck immobile when moving the person with the vertebral injury. The person is usually trapped in a firm board and carefully padded to prevent movement. Most of the time, a rigid collar is used to keep the neck from moving hence making it immobile too. When the spine is severely damaged the vertebrae may no longer be held in place or may be broken making the spine unstable. Therefore a slight movement of the victim would cause the shifting of the spine thus putting pressure on the cord which increases risks of permanent paralysis.

Drugs may be useful like corticosteroids which are injected to prevent swelling in injured area, pain killers or muscle relaxants. Good nursing is also important and can be helpful in recovering from vertebral injury. Rehabilitation is a good complementary treatment as it also helps people recover more quickly or completely to avoid depression that develops if the injury results to disability.

Surgery to Treat Vertebral Injury

Surgery for vertebral injury is applied to remove blood and bone fragments if they have accumulated and are pressing the human spinal cord. If the spine is unstable people are immobilized until the bone and all other tissues heal. Steel rods may be implanted by the surgeon to stabilize the spine to avoid additional injuries if moved. Partial loss from an injury is easily treated enabling mobility sooner. However the best time for surgery is usually debated and is done by neurosurgeons.

How Can Braces Aid in Treating Vertebral Injury?

Braces for vertebral injury helps in maintaining the spinal alignment, immobilize your spine during healing and controls pain by restricting movement. After 8 to 12 weeks the vertebral brace is usually taken off.

What is the Prognosis/Outlook for Vertebral Injury?

The prognosis/outlook for vertebral injury depend on any factors and seriousness of the vertebral injury plays a crucial role. Vertebral injury result generally in partly unchangeable damage yet with the use of the finest available treatment. The perfect reader of outlook/prognosis is the completeness and level of vertebral injury as system created by the impairment scale ASIA.

The neurological grade at primary assessment done inside 3 days determines how much spinal function will recover. People with non traumatic causes of vertebral injury are less likely to go through total injuries & few complications such as deep vein thrombosis and pressure scores and have shorter clinical visit. Sexual dysfunction is common after vertebral injury with problems such as erectile dysfunction, inability to ejaculate, insufficient lubrication of the vagina, reduced sensation and impaired ability to orgasm.

How to Prevent Vertebral Injury?

There is no sure shot way to prevent vertebral injury. A vertebral injury caused due to diseases like osteoporosis can be prevented by being very careful in preventing falls and focusing on treating the underlying disease.

  • Vehicle related vertebral injuries are prevented with measures including societal and individual efforts to reduce driving and the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving and drowsy driving. Road safety measures are also increased to prevent accidents and reduce the damages of crashes.
  • Vertebral injury causes due to falls are usually prevented by making the environment conducive such as placement of grab bars in bath tubs, use of nonslip materials in slipy areas, railing for stairs, child and safety gates for windows. Conflict resolution can prevent gun related injuries together with gun safety education and changes to the guns technology like trigger locks to improve their handling safety.
  • Changing sports rule and equipments could also save sports related problem that causes vertebral injury. Education campaigns should also be done to educate on the risks of diving in shallow waters or may be head tackling in association football.

What are the Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Vertebral Injury?

Lifestyle change determines the type of injury that is created on the human spinal cord which is either complete or incomplete injury change according to you doctor’s instructions and treatment method and only have to accept your condition.

Are there any Helpful Home Remedies for Vertebral Injury?

There are some helpful home remedies for vertebral injury you have to follow at home to better cope yourself like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, maintain a healthy diet, avoid driving when drunk, and doing exercise and practicing yoga daily in terms (of course only after the complete treatment for vertebral injury).

What the Coping Methods of Vertebral Injury?

To cope with your current status of vertebral injury you only have to accept the fact that it happened on you and if you become disabled or not nothing will change through anger and depression. Instead you should live a normal life like you used to. One of the best ways to cope with a vertebral injury is to attend or meet people with similar problem and this can give you a lot of comfort and their advice can help you in better coping with vertebral injury.

What is the Recovery Period/Healing Time for Vertebral Injury?

The recovery period/healing time for vertebral injury is completely dependent on the location and seriousness/severity of the vertebral injury. Your doctor can help in the process of recovery.

Pain from a vertebral injury can actually last for several months while healing but if the spine heals well with conservative treatment, the pain usually improves significantly within a weeks. When the pain from a compression fracture continues surgery is usually considered to repair the fracture.

Can Exercises Help in Preventing Vertebral Injury?

Regular exercise can surely help in reducing the severity of vertebral injury as the occurrences of vertebral injuries are not predictable. Exercise is one of the most and best preventative measures taken to maintain good health. In general, exercise increases physical strength and also improves longevity. Other specific exercises can also address and improve many types of spine pain and also spine recovery from a vertebral injury. This may include jogging, sit ups and any other healthy type of exercises.

How Can Yoga Help in Managing Vertebral Injury?

Yoga can provide several healing benefits for people with various types of back pains due vertebral injury. It helps by:

  • Healing injured back muscles.
  • It speeds the recovery time from a vertebral injury.
  • It also prevents re-injury by proving strength.
  • It helps maintain a regular level of daily activities and also avoid disability.

It helps lower back pains because of vertebral injury by gently stretching and strengthening the muscles of the lower back and legs and increasing blood circulation which helps bring healing nutrients to the injured tissues and spine.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: July 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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