A spinal fracture is an event that causes one of the vertebra (spinal bone) to crack, break, or separate along one or more of its sections. Spinal fractures are relatively rare in the vertebrae of the torso and lower back, because they are relatively well protected within the dense torso. Also, soft tissues such as the spinal ligaments restrict movement of the spine against fast and large motions of the spine, prohibiting against major breaks in the bones other than the cervical spines. When fractures of one or more vertebral bones do occur, they usually involve major trauma events such as intense athletic collisions or major accidents such as car accidents.
The cervical vertebrae, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to spinal fractures in events such as falls. The cervical spine, includes the first seven vertebrae of the vertebral spine. These vertebrae begin at the base of the skull, and end at the base of the neck. The architecture of the cervical vertebrae, and their location in the neck, allow for more rotation and movement than are offered the motion segments in the other parts of the spinal column. The mobility of the motion segments of the spine give us the ability to rotate the neck, and to move our head in nearly every direction. The downfall of the anatomical structure of the head, neck, and cervical spine is that it may be more vulnerable to injury, in the event of a fall where we were to land on our head or neck. Spinal fracture of the cervical vertebrae (cervical fracture) are the most common cause of spinal injuries that result in paralysis.
A cervical fracture is more commonly known as a broken neck. This condition refers the break in one or more of the first seven cervical vertebrae only, and it may or may not result in paralysis. The most common causes of broken necks are car crashes, diving into shallow water, sports injuries, and falls off trampolines.
Cervical fractures may result in neck pain, back pain, and paralysis when the spinal cord has been severed.
When spinal fractures occur outside of the cervical spine, they are more likely to be the result of compression fractures. Compression fractures occur when improper nutrition, disease, or metabolic changes in hormone levels associated with menopause in women results in weakening of the bones of the vertebral column. this weakening of the vertebrae cause the vertebral bodies - the weight bearing parts of the bone - to collapse in on themselves. Compression fractures are a sort of a crumbling of the bone, which causes it to collapse in on itself. Due to the weakening and loss of density to the weight bearing vertebral body, it can no longer support the weight of the spine, and this formerly block-shaped section of the bone eventually buckles in on itself.
Compression fractures of the vertebral spine are labeled by the shape of the vertebral body that results from the partial collapse of the vertebral body. When the vertebral body is healthy and strong, is block-shaped and the top and bottom surfaces point straight up and down. When the vertebral body becomes unhealthy, it may collapse uniformly - becoming shorter, or may collapse at one of its ends, forming more of a wedge-shape. An axial burst fracture described a collapse of the vertebral body, where it falls downwards uniformly in height from front to back. A compression fracture flexion fracture pattern describes a collapse towards the front of the spine, resulting in a more Indian arrow shaped or wedge-shaped structure.