Spinal fractures are different than a broken arm or leg. A fracture or dislocation of a vertebra can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most spinal fractures occur from car accidents, falls, gunshot, or sports. Injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains to fractures and dislocations of the bony vertebrae to debilitating spinal cord damage. Depending on how severe your injury is, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or be unable to move your arms or legs (paralysis). Many fractures heal with conservative treatment; however, severe fractures may require surgery to realign the bones.
To understand spinal fractures, it is helpful to understand how your spine works (see Anatomy of the Spine). Your spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae that provide the main support for your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend, and twist. In the middle of each vertebra is a hollow space called the spinal canal, which provides a protective space for the spinal cord (Fig. 1). The spinal cord serves as an information super-highway, relaying messages between the brain and the body. Spinal nerves branch off the spinal cord, pass between the vertebrae, to innervate all parts of your body. Kyphoplasty