Symptoms of fractures in the spinal column range from slight pain to paralysis and even death. Fractures most commonly occur through trauma, pathology or osteoporosis. Among women ages 50 to 79, 20% have one or more prevalent vertebral fractures typically as a result of osteoporosis. This type of fracture is called a compression fracture in which the body of the spinal bone collapses causing a loss of height and worsening posture (i.e. Dowager’s hump). These fractures, which mostly occur in the thoracic or mid-spine, may present as only mild pain to intense pain. Due to the architecture of the thoracic spine, the neural canal (opening for nerves) is smallest in this area, thereby subjecting its contents (the spinal cord and nerve roots) to damage when a vertebra is either fractured or misaligned. It is important to note that when a spinal bone fractures it inevitably has some degree of subluxation (or misalignment) associated with it. Traumatic spinal fractures are often devastating to an individual and costly to society. There are approximately 10,000 new cases of spinal cord injury each year costing approximately $4 billion annually. Spinal fractures that are not unstable and do not cause significant neurologic deficit can lead to problems later in life if the injury is not properly rehabilitated.
Chiropractic and Spinal Fractures
Chiropractic is not a treatment for fractures, but is a treatment for subluxation associated with such fractures. When a fracture is deemed stable and has properly healed, a chiropractic evaluation is good idea to rule out any lingering subluxation and joint restriction. The specificity of the adjustment is very safe and effective in properly establishing ideal function to a subluxated spinal joint. Numerous case studies document the success of chiropractic with stable, but subluxated spinal joints with a history of fracture. These case reports include such symptoms as back pain, headaches, radicular pain and numbness, weakness, tingling, dizziness, insomnia, difficulty breathing, loss of motor control, loss of bowel and bladder control, amenorrhea; all showing improvement with chiropractic care.
Schweiz Rundsch Vertebral Fracture: a major risk factor for osteoporosis. Med Prax. 2004 Feb 25;93(9):321-8.
Panjabi MM, et al., Multidirectional instabilities of traumatic cervical spine injuries in a porcine model. Spine 1989;14:111-115.
Plaugher G, Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic: A Specific Biomechanical Approach. Williams and Wilkins, 1993.