Back Injuries

Treatment options for back fractures and whiplash.

Back injuries can be very painful. And they can disrupt your normal activities if left untreated.

Our doctors treat many types of back injuries and help patients return to active, healthy lives. Two kinds of back injuries we treat most often are back fractures and whiplash.

Back fractures

A back fracture involves a broken vertebra, or spine bone. The fracture may be caused by:

If you have a back fracture, you may have back pain and be unable to bend forward. A spine specialist will order an X-ray to see the fracture and rule out any damage to the spinal cord or a tumor.

Our doctors typically recommend a back brace, rest, and medication to relieve the pain of a back fracture. They usually heal within six to eight weeks. If they don’t respond to these treatments, spine surgery may be necessary. One minimally invasive spine surgery we offer to treat certain types of back fractures is kyphoplasty.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is an alternative to traditional open surgery. We use kyphoplasty to treat a type of back fracture called a vertebral body compression fracture (VCF). VCFs often are the result of osteoporosis, and they can result in the spine shortening and falling forward. This can cause spinal deformity if the fracture goes untreated.

During a kyphoplasty, the surgeon makes a small incision to create a pathway into the fractured bone. Next, the surgeon inserts a special balloon. Once inflated, this balloon moves the fractured bone and reshapes it to its original state. Once the surgeon shapes the broken bone appropriately and stabilizes it with a special cementlike material, the balloon is deflated and removed.

Some of the advantages of kyphoplasty include:

  • Correction or reduction of spinal deformity
  • Fracture stabilization
  • Pain relief

Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury to the cervical vertebrae (the bones of the neck) and the nearby soft tissues. Whiplash usually occurs in a car accident. When a car is struck from behind, the occupant’s body can move forward while the head moves backward. Then the head can snap forward until the chin hits the chest. This can cause a whiplash injury.

Whiplash usually results in a mild neck strain with temporary pain and stiffness. This pain may not appear until several days after the injury. Mild whiplash cases may respond well to rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin.

More severe whiplash injuries may involve constant neck pain, weakness, or muscle spasms. We recommend that you see a doctor after you experience a whiplash injury. Follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and exercise to increase your chances of a successful recovery.

Other spine injuries and disorders we treat

People with a wide range of spine injuries and disorders from throughout Michigan and around the world come to us for help. Some of the spine disorders we treat include:

  • Arthritis and osteoarthritis (the breakdown of cartilage at the spinal joints)
  • Chronic back pain
  • Inflammatory and infectious spinal diseases
  • Spine deformities, such as scoliosis
  • Traumatic spine injuries, including those that need complex spinal reconstruction
  • Vascular spine disorders

Most spine problems don’t require surgery. We’ll work with you to create a customized treatment plan to relieve your pain without the long-term use of narcotic medications. Our pain-relief therapies include:

  • Minimally invasive procedures that provide relief to specific areas
  • Physical therapy
  • Short-term use of medications
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Spine pain therapy through injections and other approaches
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