These types of fractures usually have a sudden onset with little warning. You might feel intense pain in your back after sitting for a while or get hit from the side while playing sports and experience sharp pains afterward. If you experience any sudden pain in your spine, see a doctor immediately and avoid putting continuous strain on your back until you get better.
What is a Spinal Compression Fracture?
A spinal compression fracture is a type of fracture that occurs in the vertebrae of the spine. These fractures can be caused by trauma, such as a fall, or by degenerative conditions, such as osteoporosis. Spinal compression fractures can lead to back pain and a loss of height. In some cases, the bones may collapse into an abnormal position, known as kyphosis. Treatment for a spinal compression fracture may include wearing a back brace, taking medication, or having surgery.
Spinal compression fractures, as you may expect, are pretty severe. Also known as vertebral compression fractures, a spinal compression fracture occurs when the vertebral bone in the spine is compressed to at least 15 to 20 percent of its original height.
These fractures are very debilitating and painful and are commonly categorized into three distinct types of fracture:
This fracture usually occurs in the front of the vertebra, taking on a wedge shape after the bone collapses in the front part of the spine but leaves the back part of the bone unchanged.
Crush fractures occur when the entire vertebrae bone breaks and tends to collapse.
A burst fracture occurs when the vertebrae break out in multiple directions after collapsing, often sending pieces of shattered bone into the surrounding tissues of the spine or the spinal cord. This type of fracture is the most serious and requires immediate medical attention due to possible nerve damage.
Compression Fracture Prevention
You can do several things to help prevent a compression fracture, especially if you are at risk for osteoporosis. First, get a bone density test to check your overall health. If you have osteoporosis, treatments are available to help improve your bone density. It would help if you also focused on overall health by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. This will help prevent compression fractures by improving bone density and preventing falls.
Symptoms of a Compression Fracture
A compression fracture of the spine can cause back pain and a hunched-over posture. An X-ray is usually needed to diagnose a compression fracture. A compression fracture occurs when a bone in the spine is compressed or squeezed. This can happen because of osteoporosis, cancer, or other reasons. In some cases, there are no symptoms. But if symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Back pain that gets worse when you stand or sit up straight
- A hunched-over posture
A compression fracture can often be seen on an X-ray for other reasons, such as a separate injury after a car accident or other trauma.
Compression Fracture Diagnosis
A compression fracture is diagnosed by taking an X-ray of the spine. A compression fracture can be seen on an X-ray as a vertebra collapse. A CT scan or MRI may also be done to look for other fractures or problems in the spine.
Bone density testing may be done to see if osteoporosis can make bones more likely to break. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a type of X-ray that can measure bone density.
Compression Fracture Treatment
The first step in treating a spinal compression fracture is appropriately diagnosing it. The diagnostic process involves taking down your complete medical history and noting your initial condition. If symptoms of a spinal compression fracture are presented, your doctor or provider will likely perform testing for tenderness or pain along the base of your spine. From there, depending on the findings, additional diagnostic testing will be ordered, which usually includes:
Depending on what the scans uncover, spinal compression fracture treatment focuses on relieving pain, stabilizing the bones in the spine, and preventing another fracture. Depending on the severity of the fracture and your overall health, treatment may include the following:
At the very least, your provider will likely prescribe multiple pain medications to treat the pain associated with your spinal compression fracture. These can include both steroidal and non-steroidal medications, including muscle relaxers.
Depending on where and what type of fracture you have, your provider could suggest a back brace that holds your spine in place while also relieving the stress and pain in the area.
Bone Strengthening Medication
If your provider wants to prevent further bone deterioration, they may prescribe bone-strengthening medication or bisphosphonates. These medicines help to further stabilize and heal the bones in your spine.
Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty
These minimally invasive procedures relieve pain, stabilize the bones, and improve mobility through several injections. During vertebroplasty, your provider injects bone cement directly into your vertebrae. At the same time, kyphoplasty involves inserting an inflatable device filled with cement to provide even more stability to your vertebrae.
While it won’t be suggested until some time has passed, physical therapy can be an excellent source of rehabilitation that doesn’t involve medication. Your physical therapist can put you on a regiment of back strengthening exercises to prevent further injury.
Possible Complications of a Spinal Compression Fracture
A compression fracture occurs when the vertebrae collapse due to pressure. This can lead to a kyphosis deform, which can cause severe pain. The spinal cord may be compressed in severe cases, leading to even more severe pain and paralysis.
Spinal compression fractures are sometimes seen in people who have osteoporosis. The bones become weak and porous in this condition so they can break more easily. These types of fractures usually occur in older adults at risk for osteoporosis. In rare cases, spinal compression fractures can be fatal or lead to paralysis or even death for seniors with other co-morbid medical conditions.
Schedule an Appointment With a Orthopedic Laser Spine Surgery Doctor Today
A compression fracture is a type of fracture that occurs in the vertebrae of the spine. These fractures can be caused by trauma or by degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis. Compression fractures are painful conditions that affect many people. Several treatments are available to deal with the pain and prevent further damage to your spine. A compression fracture should not be ignored and requires professional care.
See a doctor immediately if you have experienced back pain, tingling, or numbness in your legs, arms or feet. A compression fracture can be debilitating and require surgery to correct. Contact Orthopedic Laser Spine Surgery at (855) 853-6542 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.