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Spinal bone fracture

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Hi Dr Mark,

Last weekend I fell and injured my left back. X-ray shows that I fractured/cracked 2 spinal bone transverse process L3 & L4.

How serious is this?

However, I can still walk but very slowly due to the pain and need to tilt my upper body to the left while walking to ease the pain.

Will I be able to heal 100% from this and ride MX to the fullest again?

I am very worried...

Currently on pain-killers.

Many thanks on your kind advise.

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Oh man, sorry to hear about that. Don't let me bum you out. I had a similar injury 18 years ago.

I cracked the left side transverse process on L5 back when I was 16. Did it playing football in high school. I had pain and limited mobility due to the injury for a couple of years. Spent at least a year going to physical therapy, with some success. I had weakness and intermittent shooting pain down my leg for a year. It was at least two years before I could sprint again full speed without pain. About 1.5 years after the injury I was playing Rugby. But never really made it back to football or baseball. Not sure why my injury lasted so long. Doctors really couldn't explain it. I believe I also had a pinched nerve due to the injury. Without that, I would have been back on track in a couple of months. The spinal column is a complicated series of bones, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. I was advised against surgury, and retrospectively ...well who knows. I never have liked the idea of spinal surgery unless it's the absolute last resort.

Remember your back is a complicated mechanism all injuries will be different, and heal differently. It will depend on your current physical condition, age, genetics, extent of the injury, etc. Yours may not be as bad as mine was. In fact, probably not.

Here's what worked best for me and helped to get me on the road to recovery: - I am not a doctor, so take this for what it is, friendly, non-professional advice. Make sure you see an orthopaedic surgeon, preferably one with a specialty in back injuries, and get a recommendation for a good Physical Therapist. If you don't like one, find another.

- ice to reduce the swelling, but be very careful icing your back, because it will make your spinal area stiff.

- stretch and do your therapy, your physician and PT will provide you all kinds of stretches and exercises to do. Do them.

- Wet heat- but only after your swelling is gone. Your PT will probably do this.

- Electical stimulation of the surrounding muscle areas. Not sure why, but this always helped me to feel better.

- STRENGTHEN the surrounding muscles. Hyperextension exercises, here's an example, but you won't need to do it with weight: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ErectorSpinae/BBHyperextension.html or this http://www.fitnessdestination.com/hyperextension.htm worked great for me, but it took a long time to get there. You can also do a similar exercise by lying flat on your stomach on the ground and then attempting to raise your head and legs as high as you can. It will take a while before you can do this. Also, if you can do it, swimming is a good non-traumatic exercise to keep you in shape.

- avoid aggravating the injury. Don't do crunches or sit ups until you feel totally comfortable.

Again, this was just my experience with L5, yours may be totally different with L3 and 4. You may heal a lot quicker than I did and be back on track sooner than I was. My injury happened 18 years ago, medicine has come a long way in 18 years. Everyone's different.

I went through a lot of depression in the years following my injury. It's tough for a teenager to understand that these kinds of things just happen in contact sports. On the other end, I'm 35 today, married, kid on the way, happy as hell, riding my YZ250 about 3 or 4 times a month, play soccer, swimming, and have a great job. So don't let this get you down. You've got a long life ahead of you.

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A very big thank you bosshogg! I reallly appreciate your kind advise. Thanks a million!

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In 1985 I cracked 3 vertebrae in 7 places in the L2-L4 area. Heat and electrical stimulation and therapy for 3 months. No operations though and am fine now. It did hurt alot for a few years now it just bothers me a little sometimes but dose not stop me from doing anything. Good luck Ed

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Oh ok, thanks no1clyde!

Maybe I lay-off mx for a few months to let it healed. I have a race this weekend and tempted to go race but doubtful :thumbsup:.

How about Dr Mark inputs?

I actually worried on the side effects of this injury, is it true that once there's a crack in the spinal area its prone to be weaker/vulnerable the next time I fall? The thoughts of getting paralysed making me wanna quit mx for good....:thumbsup:

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I wouldn't waste a minute worrying about a subsequent spinal cord injury or any other long term problem. I would start my cardio training again now. From what you describe, you should expect a full recovery.

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