Symptoms of Spinal Fractures

Written by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Spinal fracture symptoms and the severity of those symptoms vary based on what type of spinal fracture you have (read the article Types of Spinal Fractures for a description of the various spinal fractures). The symptoms also vary depending on whether the spinal fracture is causing nerve problems.
Spinal fractures don't always involve pain, so even after a traumatic event such as a car accident, you may not know that you have a fracture. That's why it's important to have a thorough examination by a doctor after a traumatic event.

However, a spinal fracture may cause sudden, severe pain around the area of injury. A spinal fracture may also cause swelling around the injury.

If the spinal fracture is pressing on a nerve or the spinal cord, you may have neurological symptoms such as:

Spinal fractures with neurological complications are especially serious, so if you have any of the above neurological symptoms—even if you don't have pain—you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Compression fractures, a type of spinal fracture normally associated with osteoporosis or other conditions that weaken your bones, can involve other symptoms not listed above. If, for example, you have multiple compression fractures, you can lose height and/or notice a hump in your spine (that's kyphosis). For more details on the symptoms associated with compression fractures caused by osteoporosis, read the article Symptoms of Osteoporosis.

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Causes of Spinal Fractures