Spinal Fracture Symptoms & Causes

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What causes a spinal fracture?

There are many causes of spinal fractures in children. The more common injuries occur when the area of the spine or neck is bent or compressed as in the following:

•   Birth injuries, which typically affect the cervical vertebrae (in the neck area)
•   Motor vehicle accidents (where your child is either riding as a passenger
    in the car or is struck as a pedestrian)
•   Sports injuries 
•   Diving accidents
•   Trampoline accidents
•   Violence (gun shots or stab wounds)

What are the symptoms of a spinal fracture?

Your child may have varying degrees of symptoms, associated with the severity and location of the fracture and whether or not the spinal cord has been compressed. A severe compression fracture may involve the spinal cord or nerve roots, as they are draped over the sudden angulation of the spine. This may cause severe pain, a hunched forward deformity (kyphosis) and/or paralysis. Other symptoms include:

•   Pain in the affected area (from mild to severe)
•   Swelling
•   Inability to walk or move normally
•   Deformity or an unnatural angle in the area

If you suspect a spinal injury, call for emergency help and do not attempt to move your child. Medical personnel need to determine the extent of the damage as soon as possible. Immobilize your child's head, neck and spine by padding them with towels, blankets, or jackets.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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