Spinous Process Fracture
These fractures are caused by trauma from:
- Car, motorcycle, or pedestrian accidents
- Severe and sudden twisting or bending
- Severe blows to the back and spine
- Violence, such as a gunshot
Older adults are at higher risk. Things that may increase the chance of a spinous process fracture are:
- Having health problems that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis
- Low muscle mass
- Playing sports that involve sudden twists and turns or extreme contact
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Being around violence
These fractures can happen at any place in the spinal column. They may cause:
- Severe pain that may be worse when moving, coughing, or breathing
- Swelling and bruising
- Numbness, tingling, or weak muscles
- Problems moving the injured part of the spine
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Unstable fractures may cause damage to the spinal cord. This can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.
Treatment will depend on how severe the injury is. It may take weeks or months to heal.
The spine may need to be supported as it heals. This can be done with:
- A back brace to keep a minor fracture in place while it heals
- Traction using rigid braces to treat severe or unstable fractures
People with a severe fracture may need surgery. Screws, rods, wires, or cages will be used to reconnect bone pieces and hold them in place.
Rehabilitation may be needed. It will include exercises to keep muscles strong and help with range of motion.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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