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Fracture of one or more bones of the spinal column (vertebrae) of the middle
(thoracic) or lower (lumbar) back is a serious injury. It is usually caused by highenergy trauma such as a car crash, fall, sports accident, or violent act (for example, a gunshot wound). People with osteoporosis, tumors, or other underlying conditions that weaken bone can get a spinal fracture with minimal trauma or normal activities of daily living. Males experience fractures of the thoracic of lumbar spine four times as often as females. The spinal cord may also be injured, depending on the severity of the fracture. Never attempt to move a person with a spinal injury because movement can cause more damage. Call 911 immediately. Rescue workers know how to properly immobilize people with spine injuries.


The primary symptom is moderate to severe back pain that is made worse by movement.

When the spinal cord is also involved, you may experience:

  • numbness,

  • tingling,

  • weakness, or

  • bowel/bladder dysfunction may occur.

  • Because of the high-energy mechanism of injury,

        patients often have other life-threatening injuries as well.

To learn more about this condition, download the printable PDF

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