The bones that make up the spine are strong but can fracture just like other bones in the body. Thoracic vertebral fractures can occur when forces surpass the durability or stability of the spinal column. A fracture of one or more thoracic or lumbar vertebrae is a serious injury.
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The thoracic spine is located in the chest area and consists of 12 vertebrae that connect the ribs to the spine and protect many vital organs. A vertebral compression fracture is when a bone of the spine collapses. These fractures are most common in the lower vertebra of the thoracic spine.
If the fracture is caused by an abrupt, forceful injury, you will likely feel intense pain in your back, arms and legs. You may also feel numb or weak in the same areas if the fracture damages the nerves of the spinal cord. If the vertebral fracture happens gradually from bone thinning, the pain will be more moderate.
Depending on the severity of the injury, thoracic fracture treatment can range from wearing a brace for six to 12 weeks to a variety of surgeries.
Because thoracic fractures occur mostly from sudden and violent trauma such as car crashes, patients often face other life-threatening injuries that complicate recovery.
Spinal cord damage from vertebral fractures could result in permanent nerve damage or paralysis. Do not attempt to move a person with a spinal injury, because movement could cause greater damage. Call 911 at once.
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