Fractures of the spine may occur due to a fall from a height, a blow on the head or shoulders, (usually with the spine flexed), automobile accidents, or sports such as horseback riding or gymnastics. Forcible flexion is the common injury, but flexion may be accompanied by compression bending or rotation.
Compression fractures of the vertebrae involve a collapse of the vertebrae. One or more vertebra may be affected. Causes of these fractures may include osteoporosis (the most common cause), tumour or trauma to the back.
Seat Belt Fractures
Flexion/distraction (“chance”) fracture: also known as “seat belt injury,” this type of fracture occurs when the vertebrae is pulled apart, as in a head-on car accident in which the lower body is kept in place by a lap seat belt and the upper body is thrust forward. These may involve either bone or ligament injury.
Rotation Fracture Pattern
Transverse process fracture: caused by extreme rotation or sideways bending.
The treatment depends on the number of levels involved; the area of the spine involved, the presence of spinal cord damage, the amount of angulation (_kyphosis_) present and the condition of the bone i.e. osteoporosis. Casting or bracing is used without cord damage and minimal kyphosis. Surgery is necessary when there is cord damage and/or for larger degrees of kyphosis.