Vertebral Compression Fracture

Compression fractures of the back are broken vertebrae. Vertebrae are the bones of the spine. Vertebral compression fractures are most common in the thoracic (mid-back) or lumbar (lower) spine.

Causes Of Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis is the most common cause of compression fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weakened with age due to losing calcium and other minerals.

Other causes of compression fractures include:

  • Trauma to the back
  • Tumors that started in the bone or spread to the bone from elsewhere
  • Tumors that start in the spine, such as multiple myeloma

Symptoms

Compression fractures can occur suddenly. This can cause severe back pain. The pain is most commonly felt in the middle or lower spine. It can also be felt on the sides or in the front of the spine.

The pain is sharp. Some patients describe it as feeling like a knife. The pain can be disabling, and take weeks to months to go away.

Compression fractures due to osteoporosis may cause no symptoms at first. Often, they are discovered when x-rays of the spine are done for other reasons. Over time, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Back pain that starts slowly, and gets worse with walking, but is not felt when resting
  • Loss of height, as much as 6 inches over time
  • Stooped-over posture, or kyphosis, also called a dowager’s hump

Pressure on the spinal cord from hunched over posture can, in rare cases, cause:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of control of the bowel or bladder

Diagnosis Of Compression Fractures

Our physicians are board certified, and are dedicated to giving you a comprehensive exam that will aid in diagnosing the cause of your symptoms. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, our doctors will find out the reason for your pain, and then get you on the road to better health right away. Here are a few steps our physicians use when completing their comprehensive exams:

  • We take your complete medical history to identify or rule out possible causes of your pain
  • We conduct a thorough physical exam
  • We carefully review your symptoms, including how you would describe the pain (burning, achy, dull, etc.) and whether certain positions or activities make the pain feel better or worse
  • We may order diagnostic tests, including spine x-ray, bone density test, CT scan or MRI, to help us diagnose your chronic pain

Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan that will effectively address your chronic abdominal or pelvic pain.

Possible Treatments For Compression Fractures

Treatments we offer for vertebral compression fractures include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Injection therapy
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Trigger point injection
  • Epidural steroid injection
  • Occipital nerve block
  • Alternative therapies
  • Medication management

Are you or a loved one living with vertebral compression fractures?

You don?t have to live in chronic daily pain. Pain and Spine Specialists can help?give our board-certified doctors a call today at 301-703-8767 (Maryland) or 724-603-3560 (Pittsburgh area).

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