How Long Does a Fractured Vertebra Take to Heal?

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Spinal fractures take different lengths of time to heal, depending on the type of fracture that occurs. According to Medline Plus, most spinal compression fractures that occur from an injury heal in about eight to 10 weeks. In some cases, these injuries heal with nothing but rest, the use of a back brace and pain medications. However, surgery is required to heal badly damaged vertebrae.

Humans have 33 different vertebrae. Scientists and doctors group the vertebrae into different sections. The neck is comprised of seven cervical vertebrae, while the upper back contains 12 thoracic vertebrae. Five lumbar vertebrae support the lower back. The sacrum has five fused vertebra, and the coccyx has four fused vertebrae. According to the Mayfield Clinic, 64 percent of all broken vertebrae occur in the lumbar region.

The human vertebrae are comprised of three primary components. The vertebral body forms the posterior side of the bone and supplies the bulk of the vertebrae’s mass. The vertebral body is the weight bearing part of the bone, and each vertebra is separated from the adjacent vertebrae by structures called discs. The spinal cord passes through the middle portion of the vertebrae, called the spinal canal. The surrounding bone helps to protect the vulnerable cord from injury. The remaining portion of the vertebrae forms the vertebral process, which provides attachment points for muscles and ligaments.