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633143 tn?1262133535

Spinal fracture?

Almost a month ago now I was in a pretty bad car accident.  I was taken to the hospital for hip pain, severe chest pain, and pain in my neck.  The hip pain turned out to be nothing, the chest x-rays were clear, but when they tried the range of motion with my neck I could look every way except lifting my head.  Only those x-rays came back clear too, so they sent me home an hour later.  Within a few days the neck pain subsided.  I still just can't lay may head all the way to my shoulders.  It wasn't until exactly a week after the accident that this horrible back pain started.  It starts right around my mid-shoulder blades and goes up to the base of my neck.  I can't twist in any way, I can't reach (to the sides hurts the most), I can't lift, I can't carry anything like bags normally (I have to cradle them from the bottom), bending over doesn't hurt all of the time but getting up usually does.  When sitting, my back has to be supported against something, but if the support isn't just right/perfectly even and any pressure against certain discs/spots on my spine hurts (I've been able to find two that feel like bad bruises when I push on them). I found out yesterday that it hurts to extend my legs too far (I tried to extend my leg out to catch a door that was swinging shut and almost fell over). Sleeping is the worst- no matter how I lay it hurts, and any attempts to turn or adjust can be excruciating.  And yesterday my back started spasming, right around the middle of my shoulder blades.  It completely immobilized me for a minute or two the first time.  The other times it only lasted for a few seconds.  Through it all, though, there has not been any numbness or tingling.

My doctor had me off of work for two full weeks, then sent me back with a no bending or lifting restriction.  I work in a one-year-old classroom, so that still pretty much meant no work.  I've been doing office work for about two hours a day, but even just the act of opening classroom doors is causing pain (it's an old building, and they're very heavy old wooden doors).  I've been seeing the doctor once a week and there is little improvement.  Just this week she suggested an xray to look for a small fracture somewhere and physical therapy.  But then she threw away the xray script and decided to just go with the PT to see if that made things better or worse.  I haven't set up the PT yet.  I'm a little leary of doing that with the possibility of a spinal fracture, even a small one.  She says it will show her if something is really wrong or if things are just still a bit out of whack from the accident.  I am in a decent amount of pain, but I'm not in absolute agony.  I'm at a functioning level- I'm lucky enough to have family to live with, if I didn't I'd be in trouble.  I'm driving (it hurts, but I'm doing it when necessary), I'm dressing myself, etc.  Would I be in more pain if there were a fracture?  Would that have shown up immediately on the first xray at the hospital?  
7 Responses
1248623 tn?1406808415
No and no.

Fracture possible, disk issue possible, as well as other issues.
An MRI should have been done. Do nothing more, until an MRI is performed, and go to another DR. if yours has a problem with that.
975514 tn?1324997938
I would absolutely NOT go to PT, especially when you don't know if it could hurt you more. My husband had a situation similar to yours. He was originally diagnosed with hunchback disease or Scheuermann's Disease in technical terms, which is something that usually occurs during the teen years. He was a carpenter at the time and got injured at work. When he went to the doctors they took and X-Ray and gave him that crazy diagnosis. It was the doctor and the radiologist that decided this diagnosis! The doctor tried to send him back to work. Ya right!

After crying all night and day practically in pain, my hubby said he just couldn't go to work and lift 100lbs and what not, so my husband went back into the doctors and said hey wait I am in excruciating pain- you have got to be wrong. I stand straight, I don't have hunchbacks disease. You are crazy. Then he was referred to an Orthopedic doctor who took one look at the X-Ray and said, YOU HAVE TWO COMPRESSION FRACTURES IN YOUR SPINE, YOU NEED TO BE OFF OF WORK FOR 8 WEEKS TO HEAL.

My advice to you is, if you think something is not quite right it probably isn't. Demand the X-Ray- or even an MRI if you need to. In fact if you've just been in an accident and you're in that much pain hun, you should be having that kind of testing done anyhow. You need to tell your doctor that you think he/she is wrong. If that doctor isn't listening, go to a different doctor. There are plenty of them out there. I hope this story helps you. I feel really bad for you. I know what it's like to hurt and it bothers me to hear your story. Take care and good luck.
-Dusty
317787 tn?1473358451
Hi, I agree with the other advice, you need an MRI.  Iwent to my doctor after waking in pain, he thought it was muscular,  I was in agony for 8 months, went through rest, ice heat elevation,  physical therapy, finally my doc sent me to another doc for pressure point injections, when she heard my story she immediately set me up for an MRI, called that night to tell me I had a ruptured disc.  (in hindsight I think I ruptured the disc when lifting a dryer) When PT people found out the exercises I had been doing were not advised for, as it could have made me worse.  If you have to, go to another doc.  I am surprised that the hospital did not do an MRI when you were in the accident.  Good luck to you.  
Dee
Avatar universal
Your symptoms are consistent with a vertebral fracture, but like the other poster said it could also be a disc or nerve issue. They can cause the same symptoms. As far a the fracture showing up on your first X-ray,  that depends greatly on the  training and experience of the radiologist. On some X-ray reports, they have a of type of disclaimer, I remember reading it on one of mine. I don't remember the exact wording, but basically what it said was that there could be a fracture, but we didn't see it. I'm serious.

And like everyone else said, don't even think about P.T until you have another X-ray and someone qualified to read it. If they can state with certainty that you don't have a fracture, than you should probably have an MRI to find out what is causing your pain.
Hopefully its just a minor injury that you can work out in P.T.

Take Care   

Avatar universal
DO NOT GO TO PT!!!!!

Go back and demand an MRI. An x-ray may not pick up a ruptured disc but an MRI will.  I know because that happened to me many years ago. After my Primary Care Dr. did several x-rays and still nothing showed up, he knew me and could see the terrible pain I was in he said, "Forget it, YOU are going to a Neurologist and see what's happening here." Turned out it was a ruptured disc that went straight out the back of the spine and the x-rays couldn't see it.

Like Dee1956 said, I'm VERY surprised that the hospital didn't do an MRI immediately after you were brought in. That should have been an automatic test that they ran. Unbelievable that they didn't do it.

Please take care and don't hesitate to go to a doctor that will listen to you and give you the tests that you need.

Take care and PLEASE let us know how you are doing!! -- Sherry
633143 tn?1262133535
Thanks guys! You've all just confirmed pretty much everything I was worried about.  I was pretty shocked they released me from the hospital so quickly the day of the accident.  And I'm even more shocked to hear that there is actually a disclaimer on xrays like that.  I guess they have to cover themselves and all, but that really isn't something they should be messing up on.  I am definitely following your advice and not going through with the PT.  Doctors around here aren't exactly plentiful/competent (I'm from a very small town/rural region) and those that are you wait months to see, so I may just use the PT to my advantage.  Can a PT refuse to do therapy pending an MRI or further testing?  I'll have to give that a shot.  I'm probably going to have to milk whatever I can out of my doctors now and hope they do something useful while I try to find a new one.  =0/  

Thank you again, everyone!
Avatar universal
Using the P.T. to your advantage is good idea. I was in a situation in which the origin of some very intense pain I was having was in question. And the Physical Therapist insisted that I go back to the Doctor, because  she was concerned about injuring me further.

So, if you make them aware of your situation, I doubt very seriously that they would treat you. Their always worried about lawsuits.

Take Care
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