Everything You Need To Know About Spinal Compression Fractures

The importance of the spine cannot be overstated. That’s why the prospect of spinal compression fractures is so scary: as the body’s main support structure and its critically important role in several necessary life functions, the spine and spinal column are vital to your overall health. So when you are faced with a spinal compression fracture, you need experience and skill to help you navigate a difficult recovery.

Our expert spine specialists at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery have years of experience treating and diagnosing spinal compression fractures. Such experience has given us valuable insight to provide you with everything you should know about spinal compression fractures.

What Are Spinal Compression Fractures?

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:

Wedge 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 Fracture

Crush fractures occur when the entire vertebrae bone breaks and tends to collapse.

Burst Fracture

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.

How Are Spinal Compression Fractures Treated?

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:

  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan

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:

Pain Medication

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.

Braces

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.

Physical Therapy

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.

Manage Spinal Compression Fractures With OLSS

While spinal compression fractures are severe, the good news is that they are manageable—with the right provider and care. Our team of experienced, skilled doctors at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery can help you navigate what can be a difficult recovery. If you want to set up a consultation, call our office at (855)-853-6542 or complete our contact form.