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T12 Compression fracture from accident

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    T12 Compression fracture from accident

    I was involved in a serious car accident on 10/22/09, and have a fractured sternum and crushed T12. The neurosurgeon said I've lost 20% of the height and it will not ever come back; he said I'm going to be a little shorter. He put me in a brace that I have to wear for 3 months. They did a CAT scan at the hospital when I was taken to the ER by ambulance after the accident.

    This is all so new and strange to me. I've had lots of soft tissue damage from minor accidents over the years; I have fibromyalgia as well. I was doing very well at managing this with supplements, and was very active before the accident.

    Now, at 43 years old, I find myself unable to do the simplest things for myself, and I have little to no information to go on from the doctor. They sent me home from the hospital on Tuesday with instructions to have a follow-up appt. with the neurosurgeon in a month. They didn't mention PT or seeing any other doctors.

    I have to wear this brace anytime I am not lying down in the bed. I can't stand up for my shower (I have to use a shower chair and hold the shower head. . .then dry my upper body, put on a tee shirt and back in the brace to finish drying and getting dressed). I am not supposed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, and the doctor told me that if something doesn't feel right, don't do it.

    I went to church this morning, and by the time I got home and made dinner, I was totally wiped out and had to go to bed for about 3 hours. Is this normal? I also started having some urine leaking issues yesterday. It happened once yesterday when I was sitting at the computer. I moved forward in the chair, and it just happened without warning. It happened again this morning when I was getting ready for church. I was told if I lose control of my bowels or bladder to go to the ER, but I didn't lose control. . .it just "sprung a little leak." Should I be concerned about this?

    My hands have been going numb off and on when I am using them, and when I took a nap this afternoon I was lying on my right side with my arms stretched out in front of me, and the hands went numb in that position, which they have never done in the past (happens occasionally when I bend my arms during sleep due to some minor nerve irritation).

    I've had a headache off and on since the accident. I was on a backboard for about 6 hours, and flat on my back for 16 hours after the accident, which is horrible for my existing conditions. I thought the headache was a result of that, but it is still coming and going. I don't know if I should be concerned about that.

    I am also having leg pain in my sciatic nerves in both legs. I have had sciatica for several years, so I am guessing this is pretty normal and I'm not too worried about it.

    I have been on Vicoden since the day after the accident (I talked them into taking me off the really strong stuff). I am still getting shaky insides when it wears off or when I get tired. I was told this is still from the shock of the impact (it was very hard; the other person lost control and slid into my car from the front). I am also getting chills, which is very unusual for me since I had a hysterectomy and normally I'm "hot" most of the time. I'm wondering at what point in time I should be able to start tapering off on the vicoden. I try to stretch it out to 6 hours, and only take it in the night if I wake up in pain. I am taking the normal precautions (lots of water and stool softeners, and eating plenty of fiber). I have been this route before (after my hysterectomy) and learned how to use narcotics responsibly; but, it makes me very nervous having to take them so regularly. I have been taught that if you allow the pain to go uncontrolled it will slow the healing process, so I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I'd just like some feedback if what I am experiencing is "normal" and should I call the neurosurgeon's office to ask about anything in the meantime. I didn't see the neurosurgeon the day I went home from the hospital. The nurse gave me the general list of what to do and not do, and I've been trying to comply with it. I am a very active person and I do alterations and clean houses for a living. I am starting to worry I won't be able to go back to these things in the future.

    Nope, doesn't sound 'normal' to me - get to the neurosutgeon ASAP. 'leaking' urine isn't ok, it's a bad sign if it's new.


      I agree with Coleen.

      The urine leakage indicates spinal cord involvement.

      The hand numbness doesn't make sense either since T12 is well below that neuro level.

      I would go to the doctor ASAP. Make sure the doctor has experience with spinal cord injuries.
      Ugh, I've been kissed by a dog!
      Get some hot water, get some iodine ...
      -- Lucy VanPelt


        I just found this site and found this particular post to be interesting enough to join. I was also in a car accident around the same date 10/09/09 and suffered a compression T11 fracture. I thought that it would be okay after a month pr so, I really didn't know anything about back injuries. I was told that here was very little I could do, and my therapy was limited. I have always been a fairly healthy individual as a former athlete I was familiar with injuries that I could continue being active with, just needed to tape things up etc. I also had a previous diagnosis of a C4-56 disc bulge that I was managing for the past 11 years.

        This back injury event has caused numerous new ailments that I never experienced with any injury. First of all, my therapy after the accident was poorly managed. I was on and off therapy to often due to cobra billing issues and my doctor's three month evaluation claimed lack of proper physical therapy as the cause to my continued disability.

        My issues that began after the accident were the following:

        Numbness in both hands
        Swelling of the feet and hands
        Bladder control
        Restless Legs and arms
        Sleep Apnea
        Joint pain
        Carpal Tunnel and Tennis Elbow symptoms

        These are issues that I deal with everyday now for the past 1 + and I am tired of being tired. My arms still fatigue and it is difficult to get my work down, whether it's common household chores or typing at a computer.

        I don't take pain pills and I have tried to lay off the Motrin due to the Acid Reflux. I sleep with a pillow under my back at hip level up through my neck to relieve the Sleep Apnea and Acid reflux while I sleep.

        I really want to start yoga and look for some alternative medicines. I just wanted to know if all of these side effect are normal. I know that my injury was not as bad as the person who started this post, but I do know that the accident resulted in 6 ambulance trips and 2 airlifts, and one of which was a fatality. The nature of the accident was a 65 mile an hour collision into the back of a 5 mile an hour vehicle. i was the passenger in the 65 mile an hour vehilce and I was sleeping at the time.