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Severe T12 fracture. 33 years old. Surgery ASAP?

Hi all; new here and to any back issues..

I have a grade 3 compression fracture at my t12 vertebrae. Loss of height is nearly 70%. I was shocked to find out because I didn’t wind up getting an X-ray until nearly 2 weeks later. My entire back was hyper extended forward - I was in a ton of pain but it all felt muscle related. Only after the look on my doctors face when viewing the X-ray did it really hit home. 

Since then I have seen one spine ortho who recommends a fusion of T11-L1. I was a bit shocked to say the least. I had researched kyphoplasty and that seemed like the best bet. He stressed this is not an option for someone my age. He also wants the surgery to be done in the next 5 weeks to get in there before it can really start to heal. This was extremely overwhelming especially because my pain level is about a 3.5 out of 10 at this point. How can this be?! I obviously have lack of mobility and discomfort but with nSAIDs and a brace I am functioning at 80% normal life. 

As I’ve read through this forum extreme pain is what sends everyone under the knife, and rightfully so. I guess I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around rushing into this when I have low pain and zero history of back problems. 

I do know that the problems will only increase from here and the main goal is to preserve my spine for the future. 

Has anyone had a similar situation ? Do you believe sooner the better is the right motto when tackling spine issues ? I am getting a second opinion in 2 days and would appreciate any advice/support !



  • Welcome jms819 we’re glad you’re here!

    I think you are on the right track by getting a second opinion and even possibly a third, I have had all kinds of spinal problems and several surgeries but have not had a fracture, so I can't be of much help with that, but if it does come down to surgery, we are here if there is anything I can answer for you.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you seen the Spinal Fusion Health Center on Spine-health? Spinal fusion surgery comes in many forms, and you’ll find a number of doctor-authored resources here, including Types of Spinal Fusion, Postoperative Care for Spinal Fusion Surgery, and tips to help Maximize the Ability to Heal After Spine Fusion Surgery. It’s a great resource for anyone considering spinal fusion. I hope you find it helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,720


    I agree, a second and even  third opinion will only help you make the right decision. In the next 2 days, I would start making a list of questions and concerns for the second opinion. It always helps so you don't leave anything out when talking to your doctor. We all leave the doctor's office and then say "why didn't I ask...". Even though your pain level is low, you may want to ask what damage will be caused if I wait for surgery. 

    Below is a link to a discussion started by luckyman316 regarding questions for a neurosurgeon. It is very detailed and may help you out on some questions. There is also another link to one our of articles.
    Questions for the Neurosurgeon before I sign up for surgery 
    Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon 

    Good luck and keep us posted

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  • Hello jms

    I also had a severe T12 compression fracture, probably about 70% as well. If you have some time, go and read some of my old posts for my history. I never got an x-ray: my GP said it was just a muscular problem. In the end I had an MRI at almost 3 months post-injury by which time my spine had healed in a kyphotic position and that led to the most miserable four years of my life. I would not wish my experience on any other human being.

    You say your pain is 3.5. Well it's amazing what painkillers can do but do you want to be taking them for the rest of your life? 

    In my case the delay in treatment left me in chronic pain, discomfort and a compromised spine that deteriorated further over the next two years (I ended up with about 10 fractures over time). If I could turn back the clock, I would have absolutely no hesitation in going for the T11-L1 fusion as I would probably have avoided the T9-L3 fusion that I ended up having as a result of the delay. 

    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I am happy to help others avoid the nightmare I endured.

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