In my last blog I talked about my fall. When I fell I did quite a bit of damage and have 3 compression fractures to show for it. I've been surprised by the number of people who have commented about falling and most have had no problems and dismissed the event. Perhaps its time we took a closer look.
This is an MRI of my back after the fall.
Most of you have probably not seen an image of compression fracture and disk deterioration. I had never seen an image like this until it was my own.
We know quite a bit about what happens to the spine over time. As we go about our daily lives we constantly add wear and tear to the back. Almost any movement you make will involve the back and eventually things wear out. When we become ill we lose muscle tone which puts even more pressure on the back as the disks carry the weight. Commonly, as the disks become less capable we will experience pain which can be debilitating.
Many of us go merrily along without pain thinking that our backs are OK, but how close are we to the edge and how much of a fall can do real harm? I'm your crash dummy on this ride.
You can see in the image that several disks have intruded into my spinal canal. Fortunately for me none of them have caused problems but the warning is clear. It is also important to know that prior to my fall I had no back pain.
So what about the fall. I tripped on a table leg and fell forward. It was a hands and knees fall and I didn't hit my head. I thought it was no big deal. Some discomfort but I had no idea that I had compression fractures from it in the days after the fall.
As I reflect on the actual sequence, it was not a simple hands/knees impact. I was off balance and it was one hand and one knee that took the force. This unbalanced impact greatly raised the pressure on one side of the disks and some of them couldn't take it. The point is, depending on what condition your back is in it may not take as much impact as you think it should or did when you were younger so caution is the watchword.
I'll be having surgery to stabilize the damage in a couple of weeks so I don't expect that this fall will leave me with a lasting disability but it could have. As you think about yourselves be aware that there may not be any "little" falls for you either. Don't be too quick to judge a fall as unimportant and keep your care team informed.