Vertebral breaks (vertebral fractures) cause severe pain and can damage the spinal cord. This can lead to sensory disturbances or paralysis. The causes include accidents and diseases of the vertebrae. Less serious cases only require rest and painkillers, while surgery is often needed in severe cases.
- Back pain which intensifies with movement or tapping on the spine
- Damage to the spinal cord leading to partial or full paralysis and sensory disturbances (paraplegia)
- Older people who suffer spontaneous vertebral breaks develop a hump and become shorter
Causes and treatment
- Osteoporosis (in which case the vertebrae can break spontaneously)
- Bone metastases in the vertebrae
Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital
- CT scan (computed tomography)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- Operation (in selected cases)
When to see a doctor?
- Sudden onset of severe and persistent back pain
- Back pain combined with (partial) paralysis or sensory disturbances (e.g. tingling, numbness)
- Sudden incontinence