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A burst fracture is a spinal injury that occurs when the vertebrae become severely compressed or crushed. It is usually the result of significant and sudden trauma, such as a car accident or a dramatic fall. A burst fracture compromises the vertebrae’s ability to support the rest of the spine, classifying it as a serious injury that will need immediate medical attention.

Fragments of bone may break off during a burst fracture and become displaced around surrounding nerves or in the spinal canal. Therefore, nerve damage and impaired mechanical strength may accompany a burst fracture.

After a burst fracture, the spine may tip forward due to its instability and develop a deformity called kyphosis. If left untreated, the kyphosis may worsen over time, leading to a long-term spinal deformity and chronic pain.


Burst fractures cause severe pain immediately following the injury. Oftentimes, the individual will be unable to walk following the accident or fall that caused the fracture. In addition to back pain, pain may radiate toward the neck, shoulders, hips or legs depending on which vertebrae was affected.

Based on the severity and location of the fracture, nerve damage may incur. Degree of nerve damage depends on the amount of force that caused the injury. Some may experience numbness or tingling through the extremities while others may become paralyzed.


Burst fractures are the result of a sudden and traumatic injury that crushes or compresses the vertebrae to the point of breaking. Typically, burst fractures occur during motor vehicle accidents or falls from great heights. The risk of experiencing a burst fracture increases if the individual has osteoporosis or weak, brittle bones.

For a comprehensive evaluation from the experts at Brain2Spine Institute, call 727-828-8400.

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