What is it?

A lumbar fracture refers to a break or crack in one or more of the vertebrae in the lower back region, specifically the lumbar spine. These fractures can occur due to traumatic injuries, such as falls, car accidents, or sports-related accidents. Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones, can also make the vertebrae susceptible to fractures. Lumbar fractures can range from minor compression fractures to more severe fractures involving displacement or spinal cord involvement.

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Signs & symptoms

The symptoms of a lumbar fracture may vary depending on the severity and location of the fracture, but they can include:

- Lower back pain that worsens with movement or weight-bearing.
- Pain that radiates to the buttocks, hips, or thighs.
- Muscle spasms in the lower back.
- Difficulty standing or walking.
- Limited range of motion in the lower back.
- Numbness or tingling in the legs (if the fracture affects nerve roots).
- Weakness or loss of bladder/bowel control (in severe cases with spinal cord involvement).

Diagnosis

To diagnose a lumbar fracture, a healthcare professional will typically perform a comprehensive evaluation, which may include:

- Medical history assessment, including information about recent trauma or risk factors for osteoporosis.
- Physical examination, assessing for tenderness, deformities, or neurological deficits.
- Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT (Computed Tomography) scans, or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, to visualize the fracture and evaluate its severity and any spinal cord involvement.

Treatment

Treatment options for lumbar fractures depend on the severity of the fracture, presence of neurological deficits, and individual factors. Common treatment approaches include:

- Conservative measures: Rest, pain medications, and wearing a back brace to stabilize the spine during the healing process.
- Physical therapy: Gentle exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility as the fracture heals.
- Surgical intervention: May be necessary for severe fractures with spinal instability, neurological deficits, or failed conservative treatment. Surgical options include spinal fusion, vertebral augmentation (such as kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty), or instrumentation to stabilize the spine.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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