At-Home Treatments For Spinal Fractures
What is a Spinal Fracture?
A spinal fracture, also known as a vertebral fracture or a broken back, is a fracture in any of the 33 vertebrae that make up the spinal column. In some cases, the spinal cord may be compressed or otherwise compromised.
In addition to surgical treatment options and conventional treatment options for a spinal fracture, at-home treatments may reduce symptoms. At-home treatment options include temperature therapy, bed rest, activity modification, and over-the-counter medication.
- Temperature therapy
Temperature therapy involves the use of heat or cold to reduce pain. Immediately following the injury, ice should be periodically applied to the area for approximately one week to numb pain and reduce inflammation. Heat should not be used during this time because it will increase swelling and pain by pulling fluid to the injury location. After the first week, heat, ice or both may be used depending on preference. Each should be applied for 15-20 minutes every hour. Ice should be put in a bag and wrapped in a towel before placing it on the injury site.
- Bed rest
A short period of bed rest may be recommended to limit movement that may stress the injury. Extended bed rest can worsen osteoporosis, reduce bone density, or cause other health issues. Heavy exercise should be avoided for a few weeks up to a few months, depending on severity. Bed rest should be based on instructions from a health care professional.
- Activity modification
After a few days of bed rest, it is important to slowly return to a normal routine. Individuals should keep moving, but not overdo activities. To prevent further injury, extra care should be taken when bending, twisting and lifting. A health care professional should be consulted prior to completely returning to normal physical activities.
- Over-the-counter medication
Over-the-counter pain medications can ease some discomfort experienced during the healing process. Acetaminophen or NSAIDs are non-prescription medications that can lower pain levels and reduce inflammation.