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Spinal Compression Fractures in Athletes

Spinal Compression Fractures in Athletes

The type of injury that Florida State University (FSU) returnee Chris Thompson suffered on October 8, 2011 is commonly seen among athletes who participate in high-impact sports. FSU coaching staff previously said that Thompson suffered compression fractures in the T5 and T6 during the game.

Compression fractures can occur in both teenagers and older adults; in an older adult, it most often develops in conjunction with weak and brittle bones due to the development of osteoporosis. On the other hand, a compression fracture in a younger person is often due to a major trauma such as Thompson's experience.

The vertebrae or bones and intervertebral discs protect the spinal cord and nerves. A compression fracture can be defined as a collapse of the vertebral body. This type of fracture can be classified as inherently stable or unstable, depending on the degree of collapse and the threat to spinal cord integrity. A person with a stable compression fracture will often present with pain at the level of the fracture, but will not show any neurological deficits such as weakness or numbness. This type of compression fracture is routinely treated conservatively and nonsurgically. It can be treated with treatment, back support, and pain management.

A stable fracture treated without surgery has the potential to heal without additional complications. When asked about possible recovery times, world-renowned surgeon Dr. Chetan Patel notes that "a stable compression fracture will often heal on its own within 6-12 weeks." Surgical solutions may be required if complications develop and the fracture does not heal or worsens. Dr. According to Patel, an older adult with persistent pain from a compression fracture may undergo a minimally invasive procedure such as a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, while a younger person may typically require an open procedure for a compression fracture.

Fracture of the spine is a major medical problem/condition and requires medical attention to achieve optimal healing.


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