Vertebral break

Vertebral breaks (vertebral fractures) cause severe pain and can damage the spinal cord.

Overview

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.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Back pain which intensifies with movement or tapping on the spine

Other symptoms

  • 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

Causes

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • X-ray
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Physiotherapy
  • 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

Synonyms

Vertebral break

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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