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Compression fractures occur when one of the spinal bones (vertebrae) collapse. Compression fractures are most likely to occur in the middle of the back and can also happen in the neck or lower back. Women are most likely to suffer compression fractures. Approximately one in three women experiences a compression fracture by her 80th birthday.
Many compression fractures heal on their own without medical intervention. However, compression fractures that heal improperly can permanently alter the appearance and function of the spine. Therefore, you should see a doctor if you suspect you have a compression fracture.
Reduce your risk.
Compression fractures can be caused by many conditions and activities that cause strain on the body. While compression implies excessive pressure being placed on the bone, this isn’t the only cause of compression fractures.
Osteoporosis is a risk factor for compression factors, as the weakening of the bones makes them more likely to break, even when minimal pressure is applied. In some cases, the simple act of bending forward can cause compression fractures if you have osteoporosis.
Tumors or metastatic disease (cancer that spreads beyond its origin point) can also cause compression fractures if cancer cells invade the bones. In these instances, cancer can destroy parts of the vertebrae and weaken the bones until they collapse.
Other forms of sudden trauma, including falling and car accidents, also cause compression fractures when too much stress impacts the spine.
Pinpoint your pain.
The most frequent symptom of compression fractures is pain at the source of the fracture. When a compression fracture happens suddenly, often due to trauma, there may be an instant and considerable amount of pain. However, when the fracture occurs gradually, the pain may be mild or even nonexistent until the vertebra breaks.
People with numerous fractures in their spine may have shoulders that appear humped or slumped over (kyphosis).
Get the answers you need.
The elite team of award-winning experts at Kayal Pain & Spine Center will discuss your medical history and symptoms to determine the likely source of your pain. If a compression fracture is suspected, a physical exam is performed, followed by an X-ray. The X-ray will reveal collapsed bones and allow our physicians to diagnose and treat the compression fracture. In some cases, a bone density test or additional imaging tests may be prescribed to confirm the underlying cause of the compression fracture.
Life’s too short to put up with pain.
Many compression fractures heal on their own and simply need time and rest. Your specialist at Kayal Pain & Spine Center may prescribe medications to help with your pain and provide recommendations on how to heal the fracture properly.
The next line of treatment usually involves physical therapy to help improve the spine’s strength and flexibility or a back brace may be used to stabilize your bones temporarily.
If compression fracture symptoms are severe or ongoing, your Kayal Pain & Spine Center expert may recommend surgery. Several types of surgery may be considered, including vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty and/or spinal fusion. Your surgeon will recommend the best surgical approach based on the location and severity of your spinal compression fracture.