Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

I had a bad bike accident while out riding with my little granddaughter. I broke my wrist and one vertebra (T12). It's been three months and my wrist has healed nicely, but my spine shows increased deformity on X-ray. What is causing this?

Answer:

An unstable fracture can be the problem. Pressure through the spine can cause a damaged or fractured bone to collapse even more. Sometimes a standard X-ray will show the need for surgery to stabilize the spine after fracture. Doctors look for loss of vertebral body height and the amount of forward curve of the spine. This type of spinal curve is called kyphosis.

In other cases a second X-ray in the sitting or standing position is needed. It isn't until the patient puts weight or force through the spine that the damage is seen. Vertebral collapse of more than 50 percent with a greater than 20-degree kyphosis are usually signs that surgery may be needed.

J. S. Mehta, MCh (Orth), et al. Weight-Bearing Radiographs in Thoracolumbar Fractures: Do They Influence Management? In Spine. March 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 5. Pp. 564-567.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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