Compression fractures, made by potholes

Compression fractures, made by potholes

A 65-year old woman was driving her son to the airport from Marathahalli. Ahead, on the road, was a hump without any indication marks. To make it worse, a pothole lay right adjacent to it.

She failed to identify the hump or the pothole, and drove right over it. The abrupt jump led to a compression fracture of her backbone. In extreme pain and difficulty in answering nature's call, she approached Sakra hospital. She later underwent a surgery.

Her daughter, Likitha has this to say: "My mother has stopped using two-wheelers only because her back pain has aggravated over the years. All because she fell into some unexpected pothole on the road. We have had to go to the doctor several times because of the back pain."

A working professional herself, 24-year-old Likitha has decided not to take any chances. She now travels by Metro, afraid of an accidental fall triggered by potholes.

In the words of Dr Satish Rudrappa, Director, Neurosciences, Sakra World Hospital, who treated Likitha's mother, several such accident victims turn up at the hospital. Many of those accidents are caused by potholes. Their medical conditions range from knee pain, back ache to compression fractures on the spine and compression of backbone.

Reports indicate that the city's hospitals receive at least 25 cases of compression fractures caused by accidents every month. "We get at least one patient a day with compression fracture," says Dr Thomas Chandy, director and chief of Hosmat hospital for Orthopaedics and Accident Trauma.

Compression fractures also occur when one falls into a pothole or pit repeatedly. Doctors declare that Bengaluru's roads are not conducive for daily commute as the numerous potholes may cause bone fractures too.

There is risk of leg fractures also, says Narayan Hulse, additional director, orthopaedics, Fortis hospital.

Doctors say these fractures become more prevalent during rainy season, particularly among two-wheeler and car users. It is even more dangerous for people who already have back and spine issues to jump into potholes. Such accidents would make their medical condition even more severe.

Dr Dinesh Manni, consultant, orthopaedic and joint replacement, Narayana hospital informs that the fracture often occurs in the anterior segment of the spine (first part of spine, immediately after the neck) due to the force exerted by a sudden fall into the pothole. Due to this, the spine becomes wedge-shaped.

According to doctors, although compression fractures do not need a surgery, it calls for at least three months of rest with the use of a brace. Such braces are custom-made in the hospitals according to the patient's requirement.

Compression fractures can occur easily among elderly people with osteoporosis, a medical condition where the bones become brittle and fragile due to tissue loss. Older citizens should take precautions while travelling on the city roads as a minor compression on the backbones may lead to aggravation of fracture on the spine, if not treated in time.

"If the fracture is more than 50%, then surgery is required. It may even cause neurological problems. Patients may suffer from chronic pain," says Dr Satish Rudrappa, director, neurosciences, Sakra World Hospital.

Doctors feel it is high time that the roads are maintained well and the shoddy works are stopped.

They reiterate that bodily fractures mostly occur not from the motorists' fault but from potholes that should not have been there at all.

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