Back Injuries on the Job 101: All About Vertebrae
The back is a surprisingly complicated structure, making it difficult to ascertain the specific cause of—and solution to—chronic pain. As a back pain sufferer, it behooves you to gain a thorough understanding of the damage you may have endured. Read on to learn about the vertebrae, which play a critical role in numerous injuries:
What Are Vertebrae?
Vertebrae consist of a series of nearly three dozen interlocking bones. Together, these make up the spinal column. Each vertebra features a load-bearing body, an arch that protects the spinal cord and attachment points that ensure flexible movement.
Experts classify vertebrae based on their position. For example, the spinal column’s upper portion features cervical vertebrae, while thoracic vertebrae offer attachment points for the ribs. The sacral and caudal vertebrae are fused into the sacrum and tailbone.
Common Vertebral Injuries
A variety of injuries strike the vertebrae; most are serious enough to cause severe pain. Vertebral compression fractures may occur in response to osteoporosis, but can also result from excessive pressure or a hard fall. Especially serious compression fractures are known as burst fractures; these occur when the bone shatters, with bone fragments possibly piercing the spinal cord.
Although less severe than burst fractures, vertebral dislocation can prove quite painful. Dislocation occurs when one or more vertebrae are displaced, typically in response to a traumatic neck injury. Occasionally, dislocation and fractures occur at the same time, damaging both soft tissue and the spinal cord.
Symptoms of vertebral injuries vary somewhat based on the severity and whether a burst occurs, but sufferers can expect to experience intense pain, which worsens while standing or walking. Many also suffer reduced range of motion.
If you suspect you’ve suffered a vertebral injury on the job, contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about your options.