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Pain Management

Crushed Vertebrae

07/11/2007

Question:

My daughter was in a car accident and got ejected from her jeep.she crushed the 11th vertebrae and L-1.this happened in October 06.in the hospital they took x-rays and discovered that the 11th vertebrae was crushed.do to a lots of lower back pain we went back and they found the L-1 was also crushed.this was last month,also her spine is now almost like an S and they say she has a small amount of arthritis.her fingers in the right hand tingle and she is getting headaches that affect her right eye.is there any thing what can be done?and does 2 crushed vertebrae can make her spine and neck crooked?she had no problems like this before her accident.and where is the arthritis coming from?she just turned 21.thanks for your answer.

Answer:

A motor vehicle accident (MVA) can result in structural damage to the spine as evidenced in your daughter's case with fractures in 2 of her vertebrae (T11 and L1). A vertebral compression fracture usually heals in a matter of 3 months. Having persistent pain may be related to other structural changes. If the vertebral collapse was severe with the fractures, it may explain the scoliosis (S shaped spine).

A frequently reported entity with MVA (especially rear ending) is cervical (neck) whiplash injury. Patients with cervical whiplash often complain from neck pain and headache that may radiate to the area behind the eye.

Your daughter needs to follow up with a pain medicine specialist and possibly with a spine surgeon for more diagnostic workup such as an MRI of the lumbar spine and diagnostic neck injections. A rheumatologist can perform the appropriate work up to rule in or out arthritis.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University