Q. A plywood accidentally fell and hit my head. Is there any possibility for spine fracture?

Answered by
Dr. Firas Arnaout
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 14, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have some pain due to injury. Last week, I was at a construction site and marine plywood that is used for construction fell and hit me on the back of my head. My head is fine but my upper back is still in pain and chest also. I did not fall down when I was hit but the impact pushed my upper body down and forward I think beyond normal that is why I am getting back and chest pain.

I did not go to the hospital because I do not feel the need. I am sure they will just tell me to give time and take pain killer. Can I get your advice? Is it possible I fractured my spine? What should I do? I am just taking Ibuprofen. Pain is not very bad I am still doing things normally and I can move. I am just wondering why I am still in pain after one week. Can this be a fracture? Please advise.

Dr. Firas Arnaout

Orthopedics And Traumatology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

It seems that you have suffered whiplash injuries. This is common following high energy impacts on the upper body. From the mechanism you described, it seems unlikely to sustain a fracture. However, it is very difficult to be certain without clinical examination and x-rays.

How is your pain? Is it tender at any particular spot? Is the tenderness is on the midline of your spine or on the sides? Pain directly in the midline with a particular spot of tenderness is something I would recommend that you get an x-ray. The fact that you are otherwise moving and carrying on with life normally is reassuring. However, unfortunately, whiplash injuries can take many weeks to settle.

With regard to the chest pain, it is possible that the injury might have caused a crack in your ribs. X-rays are not very good at showing this. The treatment, in any case, is rest and painkillers.

I hope this helps.

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Thank you doctor,

My pain is more like aches. When I am sitting up straight or when I arch my upper body forward or back. Pain is not just at the midpoint but also on the sides of my back and shoulders. On touching my back I cannot feel any pain it is more of structural pain. Chest pain feels tight like there is pressure pushed on my ribs but nothing too serious I can still take a deep breath.

I was just worried why I am still in pain after a week but since you said it may take a few weeks to settle this explains it. I think I will just give it more time. Even if I get an x-ray done I will just be advised to continue with pain medication and rest.

Do you think it will heal 100%? Will I get any chronic back pain later? This is my biggest worry. What should I do to make sure this does not become a chronic problem. I have stopped exercising. I do some stretches when I get back home, is this a good thing or does it interfere with the healing process?

Dr. Firas Arnaout

Orthopedics And Traumatology


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

To give it the best chance of healing I recommend you start a course of physiotherapy treatment.

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