Any of the types of spinal fractures can become a fracture-dislocation if one of the vertebrae moves significantly out of place. When this happens, it usually involves all three columns of the spine—the anterior, posterior and middle columns–and makes the spine very unstable. The spinal canal narrows because of the displacement of fracture fragments or subluxation of one vertebra over another. (The term subluxation here should not be confused with its use in chiropractic.)
Treatment of a Spinal Fracture-Dislocation
Fracture-dislocations of the spine, which are caused by high-energy trauma, are often associated with other serious injuries from an accident and often cause damage to the spinal cord or nerve damage. The treatment of a spinal fracture depends of the type and location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, the amount of displacement, the patient’s age, and whether there is spinal cord involvement. They generally require surgery to stabilize the spine with a closed reduction, fitting the pieces of bone together using screws, rods, and cages, with decompression and realignment of the spine. The surgery is sometimes delayed until other serious injuries are treated and the patient’s overall condition is stabilized. Nevertheless, it is important not to unnecessarily delay the surgery because of the threat to the spinal cord if left untreated.
A short period of bed rest, usually with bracing, follows the surgery. Physical therapy is then required to restore strength and mobility.
Making a Claim for Compensation
If you have suffered a broken back or spinal fracture-dislocation, your normal life will be put on hold for some time. If another person’s careless behavior was the cause of the accident that caused your spinal fracture, you may have a claim to recover money to compensate you for your losses. It would be a mistake to try to settle a case of this kind directly with the insurance company covering the person responsible for the accident, because the outcome of treatment is unpredictable. This is an extremely serious injury that could potentially require medical treatment for years to come. If the fracture-dislocation causes damage to the spinal cord, you may require a lifetime of care.
You will need to have a personal injury attorney who understands the potential long-term consequences of these injuries working for you to ensure that you receive compensation that is fair and adequate to cover current and future losses.
Jim Dodson has more than twenty five years experience helping people who have suffered serious, live-changing injuries. If you have questions about your injury and how to make a claim against the person who caused it, give our office a call.
If you are still in the hospital or recovering at home and can’t get to the office, Jim will be happy to meet you wherever it is convenient for you.