Spinal Fracture Treatment

Overall goal of spinal fracture treatments

The goal of spinal fracture treatment is the restoration of normal length and alignment of the vertebrae, and avoidance of motion between the fracture fragments. Specific treatment for a fracture will be determined by your child's physician based on:

   •    Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
   •    Extent of the fracture 
   •    Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
   •    Expectations for the course of the fracture
   •    Your opinion or preference

Treatment options for spinal fractures

Treatment at Boston Children's Hospital may include some combination of the following:

•   Brace - immobilizes the injured area to promote bone alignment and healing to protect the injured area from
    motion or use. Bracing helps reduce acute pain by immobilizing the fracture and helps reduce the eventual loss
    of height and in angulation from the fracture. Immobilization of a cervical spine compression
•   Fractures usually involve the use of a rigid collar.
•   Medication (for pain control)
•   Reduction - involves realignment of the fractured bone. This can be done through an incision made into the
    fracture site (open reduction) or by external manipulation without an incision (closed reduction)
•   Traction - the application of a force to stretch certain parts of the body in a specific direction. Traction consists
    of pulleys, strings, weights, and a metal frame attached over or on the bed. The purpose of traction is to stretch
    the muscles and tendons around the broken bone to allow the bone ends to align and heal.
•   Surgery - required to put certain types of broken bones back into place. Occasionally, internal fixation (metal
    rods or pins located inside the bone) or external fixation devices (metal rods or pins located outside of the body)
    are used to hold the bone fragments in place to allow alignment and healing.

Long-term outlook for a spinal fracture

With proper immobilization and rehabilitation including physical therapy and exercise, most children can expect to make a full recovery from a spinal fracture.