What are Flexion-Distraction Fractures and What are the Treatment Options?

X-ray of Spine & PelvisFlexion-distraction fractures are also called extension fractures. These are injuries in which the vertebra is actually pulled apart. Flexion-distraction fractures can occur in a head-on collision when the upper body is violently thrown forward while the lower body is restrained by a seat belt.

Approximately half of the people who suffer these fractures in a car accident have other internal abdominal injuries, so it is very important that a careful examination is made of all abdominal organs when a flexion-distraction fracture is identified, and conversely, when there are abdominal injuries, an examination of the spine with x-rays is important so a fracture of this type is not overlooked.

Treatment of Flexion-Distraction Fractures

Sometimes these injuries are treated non-surgically; the victim must remain in a cast or brace for about three months. If the posterior ligaments of the spine are damaged or if the fracture falls through the discs of the spine, surgery is required. In either case, the accident victim must spend a significant amount of time recuperating and is unable to work or go about his daily activities. Kyphosis often occurs if a non-surgical approach is taken, however.

The surgery required for a flexion-distraction fracture is open reduction with internal fixation, and local spinal fusion for unstable fractures and for fractures with neurological involvement.

Possible Complications

Ongoing post-treatment pain in the most common complication of a flexion-distraction fracture. Deformities of the spine including scoliosis and worsening kyphosis are also common. Sometimes, an alteration in posture results, which can cause back pain and fatigue. Other possible complication are non-union of the fragments and post-traumatic syringomyelia, which is a progressively growing cyst filled with cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal cord.

Without additional treatment, PTS can cause loss of function, severe chronic pain, low blood pressure with light-headedness, sweating, spasms, impaired ability to empty the bladder, respiratory failure, or even death.

A person who has been involved in a car accident that was caused by someone else may make a claim to recover for the losses suffered as a result. It is best to consult an attorney who has experience helping people with serious injuries from car accidents in Florida.

A great place to begin the process is to read an informative consumer guide entitled Five Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case, written by Jim Dodson, an attorney in Florida that has handled lots of car accident cases successfully. Jim will send you a copy at no charge so you can begin to learn about the legal process, even before you hire an attorney.