Spinal fractures and dislocations in India

The most common cause of spinal fractures and dislocations in India is road traffic accidents followed by fall from height (usually a fall from tree). Spinal fractures can damage the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis. This paralysis can be permanent, and have devastating consequences on the patient and his family.

Patients with spinal fracture but no paralysis may be given a collar or a trunk brace if required.For neck injuries, we sometimes use a Halo Vest (Halo is a metallic ring around the skull which is connected to a thermoplastic vest with metallic uprights to give external support to the neck spinal bones).We do not use bed rest to treat spinal fractures. Rather, we make these patients walk as soon as possible (as tolerated within the limits of pain) with or without a brace.

Some of these patients may need a Spine Surgery to fix these fractures. This may be done using plates or rods and screws made of Titanium. Some of these fractures can be fixed using Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS).

Patients with paralysis almost always require a Spine Surgery to decompress the spinal cord and to fix their neck or back. If the paralysis is incomplete to start with, one can hope for the paralysis to improve over a period of 3 months to 1 year.

If the paralysis is complete at the time of injury it may never recover. The aim of surgery in patients with complete paralysis, is to facilitate their nursing care; prevent bed sores and pneumonia; and mobilize them at the earliest on a wheel chair. Unfortunately, ongoing research from all over the world is yet to find an effective treatment by which patients with complete paralysis can be made to walk again.

WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST THE USE OF STEM CELLS IN PATIENTS WITH PARALYSIS (FROM SPINAL CORD INJURY) AS THERE IS NO PROOF OF THEIR EFFECTIVENESS.

There are many organizations that are selling ‘Stem Cell Therapy’ as a cure for paralysis (from spinal cord injury). We caution our patients against spending exorbitant amounts for this procedure.

Patients with ankylosing spondylitis and osteoporosis are also predisposed to developing spinal fractures even with trivial trauma like a fall at home or a slip in the bathroom