How a Simple Fall Caused My Spinal Fracture
by Dawn Riddle
Moving is never fun, but it’s significantly worse when you get hurt in the process! I was moving to a new home, dragging a bin filled with pots and pans. The carpet shifted and I fell straight down on my butt. I immediately heard a really loud pop in the middle of my back. I was in immediate pain. A neighbor helped me to my car and I drove home and took some ibuprofen.
The next day, I went to work. I worked 12 hours straight at a nursing home. The medical carts there are old and heavy and I was having trouble pushing them with my back pain. I had to have an aide help me so I could get my job done. The day after that, I went to my other job, where I provide private care as a nurse in someone’s home. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do too much lifting, but I was on my feet for 8 hours that day. By the time I finished work, I was in extreme pain. So I drove myself to the ER.
I was checked in and given an x-ray. They saw I had a vertebral compression fracture and I was told they would make a follow-up appointment for me with an orthopedic surgeon. I was sent home with pain killers. But as a nurse, I knew I needed to be clear headed the next day. So I just took ¼ of a pill to help me sleep and managed the pain as best as I could during the work day. I also bought a back brace at the store to wear to give me additional support.
The week after my injury, my mom died. I drove 12 hours to the funeral and 12 hours back. This only made my back worse.
I continued working 7 days a week while I waited to hear about my ortho appointment. But they never called. I finally followed up and by the time I could get in, a month had passed.
When I met with the orthopedic surgeon, he did an MRI and explained that the compression fracture was caused by osteoporosis. Since a month had passed and I had no pain relief trying more traditional methods, a minimally invasive surgery called balloon kyphoplasty was offered to me as an option. The doctor explained that this is a treatment option for my fracture caused by osteoporosis and how it would work using a balloon to create space where the fracture was and putting cement in to build up the vertebrae and help give it stability. The cement also prevents the collapse from happening again. Two days later, I returned to the surgical center for my outpatient surgery. I rested at home after the surgery and went back to work the very next day.
I was very careful at first because I didn’t want to reinjure my back. But a week later, I popped out of bed and felt completely better. I have had no pain since my surgery.
I was 59 years old when this happened. I had never thought my bones were weak or that I could have osteoporosis. My family doctor suggested I take calcium and I will soon follow up with a bone density scan. I am grateful that I can continue working and taking care of myself and I’m hopeful that the calcium will help protect me from future fractures. And I encourage everyone to see their health care provider if they experience back pain that does not go away.
This resource was created with support from Medtronic.