Vertebral Compression Fractures
The common term for vertebral compression fractures is a broken vertebra. When the fracture occurs, the bone collapses. More than one bone can be affected at the same time.
The most common causes of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis, trauma to the back or tumors that have begun to spread into the bone from other places in the body.
There may be no symptoms associated with a fracture to begin with. But over time, you may experience increased pain, a significant loss of height (as much as six inches), or you begin to have a posture that is stooped. If the fracture is sudden, it can cause severe pain, often described as being knife-like. It’s usually felt in the lower part of the spine.
Secondary symptoms that are related to the onset of kyphosis can include tingling, numbness, weakness and difficulty walking.
A physical examination won’t always identify the issue, especially in the early stages. To confirm vertebral compression fractures, your doctor may do an x-ray, test bone density, or order an MRI or CT scan, especially if there is a suspicion that a tumor or trauma is causing the issue.
Pain medications and bed rest are the first lines of treatment. Some doctors will recommend the use of a back brace to provide additional support. Physical therapy may help you improve your muscle strength, reducing the likelihood of fractures in the future.
Surgery is only considered as a last resort in cases of vertebral compression fractures. The two most common procedures are a balloon kyphoplasty and a vertebroplasty. Both procedures are similar in that they use a cement that is injected into the bone to ensure the area doesn’t collapse again and restore natural height.
If the fracture is caused by a tumor, a biopsy will be taken and the tumor is treated in the most effective way possible.
Since every case is different, you’ll want to explore your options with your doctor at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Spine Center.