Workplace accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, but one that causes vertebrae fractures can be particularly scary. While many such injuries are minor and can heal on their own, a more serious case of fractured vertebrae could result in long-term complications, chronic pain, deformity, paralysis, and sometimes even death. Let’s take a closer look at this type of injury, the treatments involved, and what you should do if you sustain this type of workplace injury while working in Los Angeles, Orange County, Oxnard, or other Southern California areas.
What Is A Vertebral Fracture?
A vertebral fracture is a break in one or more of the 24 bones that make up your spine. These fractures can occur due to a traumatic event, such as a car accident or a fall from a height, or they can be the result of degenerative diseases like osteoporosis. In the workplace, fractured vertebrae most often occur due to a fall.
There are different types of vertebral fractures, depending on how the bone is broken:
- A compression fracture is the most common type and occurs when the front of the vertebra collapses, whether due to degeneration from osteoporosis or a high-impact accident.
- A flexion-distraction fracture occurs when the spine is bent too far forward and then stretched from behind, pulling the vertebrae apart. (You might see this type of fracture if you fell from a height and hit a crossbar with your chest on the way down, for example).
- An axial burst fracture occurs when the vertebra is “crushed” top and bottom, usually due to a vertical impact (like falling from a height and landing on your feet).
- A burst fracture is when the vertebrae shatter. This is usually the result of a high-impact accident and can be very dangerous because the bone fragments could sever the spine.
Symptoms of a Vertebral Fracture
The symptoms of a vertebral fracture will depend on the type and severity of the injury. In most cases, it manifests as back pain that worsens over time, but there may be no symptoms at all in some cases. The only way to know that you have a fracture is through an X-ray or MRI. However, in other cases, the symptoms may be severe and can include:
- Loss of height (as the vertebrae collapse)
- A curved spine (kyphosis)
- Debilitating pain
- Stiffness and decreased range of motion in the back
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs
- Paralysis if the spinal cord is damaged
The danger with fractured vertebrae is if the symptoms are mild after a workplace accident and you don’t get it diagnosed, it can evolve into long-term complications and long-term disability. This is why you should always get checked by a doctor after a workplace fall, even if you think you’re not injured.
Treatment for Fractured Vertebrae
In most cases, fractured vertebrae can heal on their own. To facilitate healing, you’ll likely need to wear a brace for about 12 weeks to keep the spine immobilized, and you may or may not be able to work during this time. Rehabilitative physical therapy may also be required for more significant injuries, and severe cases may need to be surgically corrected.
If You Suffer a Fractured Vertebrae Accident at Work
Workers’ compensation should cover treatment, recovery, and wage subsidies for fractured vertebrae accidents if you were injured on the job. However, you should also consult with a work injury attorney to ensure your workers’ comp covers you properly and to determine if you’re eligible for further compensation. To schedule a free consultation with a work injury attorney in Tarzana, call Accident Defenders today at 323-591-2829 or fill out our online contact form.