The doctors of Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine have been successfully treating patients with spinal fractures from all over Long Island and the greater New York metropolitan area for years. Our outstanding physiatrists — physicians who specialize in pain management and rehabilitation — are broadly recognized as among the finest in New York State and beyond. We have a fine track record of helping patients with spinal fractures regain the sense of well-being that comes from pain relief and restored function. And all without surgical intervention.
Types of Spinal Fractures
There are two basic types of spinal fractures:  compression fractures and  fractures of spondylolysis. Though the causes and some of the symptoms of these two types of spinal fractures differ, many of our spinal fracture treatments work well for both.
Nonetheless, because we deal with back and joint pain due to a wide variety of causes — from congenital defects to disease conditions, from sports injuries to accidents to problems associated with aging — we are extremely careful diagnosticians, aware that making an accurate diagnosis is essential to designing the appropriate spinal treatment. We are also cognizant of the fact that some patients come to us with conditions that have previously been misdiagnosed.
Compression Spinal Fractures
Compression spinal fractures typically occur in patients who suffer from osteoporosis. Though they are most common in postmenopausal women over the age of 50, they can also occur in men and younger individuals. Because the vertebrae (bones of the spine) are brittle in patients with osteoporosis, it doesn’t take much for a bone to develop a hairline fracture that gradually enlarges over time. Relatively slight stresses, such as bending, lifting or even sneezing may result in a spinal compression fracture in such patients.
Risk factors for compressions spinal fractures include:
- Being white or Asian
- Being an older woman
- Being thin
- Having gone through menopause before the age of 50
- Being a smoker
In some cases, compression spinal fractures may also be the result of long-term exposure to certain medications. infections, or cancer.
Spinal Fracture of Spondylolysis
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in one of the vertebrae, typically due to a sports injury or other physical trauma, such as a car or construction accident. When spondylolysis weakens the affected vertebra to the degree that it can no longer hold its proper position in the spine and slips forward over the next bone, the condition is known as spondylolisthesis.
The majority of cases of spondylolysis occur due to sport injuries in sports that stress the lower back (e.g. football, gymnastics, wrestling and weight lifting), especially in children and adolescents. There are, however, many adult patients who come to us with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis resulting from the wear and tear of aging.
In most cases, we recommend that our patients with spinal fractures rest and avoid all strenuous activities as we begin to improve their conditions with noninvasive, conservative methods of treatment. As their pain subsides, we will move them on to progressive spinal fracture physical therapy with our highly trained physical therapists, all certified by the McKenzie Institute.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Fractures
Patients with spinal fractures frequently show visible signs of the problem. They become shorter as their vertebrae compress, and, because the back of vertebrae are harder than the front, the front of these bones may collapse, leading to a stooped posture (kyphosis). Although kyphosis is commonly called “dowager’s hump,” many men also develop the condition.
Though the specific causes and possible results of the two types of spinal fractures may differ, the symptoms are often quite similar, including:
- Back pain that worsens with prolonged standing or walking
- Difficulty bending, twisting, or reaching
- Pain in the buttock or hip
- Radiating pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg
- Pressure that affects digestion or breathing
Pain and abnormal sensations that radiate from the spine to the limbs, known as radiculopathy, typically occur if the patient’s spinal nerves are impacted. This may happen sometime after the original fracture, particularly if the patient develops spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column), bone spurs, disc degeneration, arthritis, or cysts on the facet joints (the small joints between adjacent vertebrae.
Diagnosis of Spinal Fracture
At Long Island Spine, we not only have expert diagnosticians, but state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. We will carefully evaluate you by taking the following steps to find out whether you have a spinal fracture, what type it is, and its precise location and severity:
- Taking a complete medical history
- Performing a thorough physical exam
- Examining X-rays of your spine
- Taking an MRI or CT scans if we suspect nerve involvement
- Following with bone density studies for those who may have undiagnosed osteoporosis
Spinal Fracture Treatments
Whatever the cause of your spinal fracture, it is important to arrange for prompt treatment since having one spinal fracture puts you at increased risk of suffering another. We customize our spinal fracture treatment program to meet your particular needs. Our treatment methods include:
- Custom bracing for support, pain relief, and improved mobility
- Medications to help improve bone density, reduce pain and inflammation, relax muscles
- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)
- Epidural corticosteroid and anesthetic injections using fluoroscopic guidance when nerve root pain is also present
- Acupuncture (administered in our East Meadow and Great Neck offices)
- Spinal fracture physical therapy (e.g. flexion-based exercises) and instructions about how best to protect your spine during activity and even during rest or sleep
Every type of spinal fracture treatment we offer is well-executed and precisely targeted. When prescribed medication is required, we make sure to keep you on the lowest dose that keeps you comfortable and we monitor you for possible side effects or interactions with any other medications or supplements you may be taking.
When Surgery Is Necessary
Most spinal fractures heal in a relatively short period of rehabilitation by wearing a brace, engaging in physical and interventional therapy, and taking pain medications as directed. If your injury is severe enough to require surgery, we will refer you to a skilled surgical colleague and provide you with excellent rehabilitation to get you up and running after the operation.
Contact Long Island Spine and Start Feeling Better
Everyone at Long Island Spine is focused on helping you to heal as quickly as possible from your spinal fracture. As soon as you contact us, you will feel hopeful. Our welcoming and compassionate team is eager to relieve your pain and help restore your ability to participate in the activities you enjoy.