Spinal Fractures Specialist

Pawel Jankowski, MD -  - Neurosurgeon

Pawel Jankowski, MD

Neurosurgeon & Spine Specialist located in Irvine, CA & Newport Beach, CA

Most patients who have spinal fractures also have osteoporosis, a condition that weakens their bones, so they break more easily. If you have a spinal fracture, fellowship-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Pawel Jankowski can help ease the pain and improve your mobility using minimally invasive procedures such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. To find out more, call one of Dr. Jankowski’s offices in Irvine or Newport Beach, California, today or book an appointment online.

Spinal Fractures Q & A

What are spinal fractures?

Spinal fractures are injuries to the vertebrae that make up your spinal column. Acute injuries that fracture the vertebrae, like auto accidents or falling from a height, typically require emergency treatment.

More common are compression fractures, which happen when a vertebra loses height. Compression fractures are more likely to occur if you have osteoporosis, a disease that significantly reduces the density and strength of your bones.

Osteoporotic bones fracture under far less pressure than healthy bones would. If your osteoporosis is severe, you’re almost certain to fracture a bone if you fall, and your vertebrae can compress with minimal pressure.

Are there different types of spinal fractures?

There are several different types of spinal fractures:

Wedge fractures

Wedge fractures are the most common type of spinal fracture. These fractures occur when the front of the vertebra reduces in height, while the back remains the same. This creates a wedge shape. If the back and the front of the vertebra compress, it’s called a crush fracture.

Burst fractures

Burst fractures occur when the vertebra breaks into pieces. This can allow fragments of bone to stick into the surrounding soft tissues. Burst fractures are usually unstable, and there’s a risk of complications such as spinal cord injury and spinal deformity.

What symptoms do spinal fractures cause?

Acute fractures of any kind are usually painful, often severely so. If the fracture is causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves coming off your spinal cord, you might also experience:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Impaired function

If you have a series of wedge fractures, the changing shape of your vertebrae causes your back to round and develop thoracic kyphosis — what’s commonly known as a dowager’s hump.

If you have a dowager’s hump, it causes you to lose height and can put pressure on your internal organs. The bent shape results in chronic backache, which adds to the pain of the fracture itself.

How are spinal fractures treated?

If your spinal fracture occurs as the result of severe trauma, you could need emergency surgery in the hospital. If your spinal fracture is less traumatic, conservative measures can often help. These include:

  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Physical therapy

When necessary, Dr. Jankowski can carry out advanced, minimally invasive surgery to treat compression fractures. There are two primary options:

Vertebroplasty

To carry out vertebroplasty, Dr. Jankowski injects medical-grade cement into the compressed vertebra. The cement gives support and strength to the bone, which reduces spinal fracture pain.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, but before injecting the cement, Dr. Jankowski performs an additional step to restore height to the vertebra. This step involves inserting a special balloon into the vertebra and inflating it to reduce the effects of compression.

Find out if you’re a suitable candidate for one of these surgeries by calling Dr. Pawel Jankowski today or booking an appointment online.