Vertebral Compression Fracture

Vertebral compression fractures occur when there is too much pressure on a vertebra causing it to collapse and become wedge shaped rather than cylindrical.

Causes
Vertebral compression fractures may be the result of various causes.  Osteoporosis reduces bone density increasing the probability of fracture with little or no trauma.  Severe injuries that cause a vertebra to fracture can include a fall from a tall height where the person lands on their feet or buttocks or a car accident.  Additionally, a vertebra may fracture due to a preexisting disease at the fracture site.

Symptoms
Patients with vertebral compression fractures may present with pain in the back, abdomen, hips, or thighs.  Numbness, tingling, or weakness in extremities can be experienced if the nerve roots are compressed due to the fracture.

Treatments
Self-care methods such as resting, placing ice or heat to the injured area, or stretching per doctor’s orders may relieve the pain.  Should the pain persist, pain medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants may be administered by your doctor.  However, a procedure called vertebroplasty may be necessary in some cases to stabilize these types of fractures by injecting a type of plastic.  Less commonly, actual surgery may be needed to stabilize the spine or to prevent the spinal cord from being compressed.


This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent decision about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. Always consult your doctor about your back problem or medical conditions. Life Spine does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.