Compression fractures occur when one or more sections of the spine weaken and then collapse. In the spine, there are two main sections – the vertebral arch and the vertebral body. Our vertebral arch protects the spinal cord and can be felt when pressing on the skin in the middle of the back. The vertebral body provides us with all of our structural support and is the most affected by a compression fracture.
The most common type of compression fracture is called a wedge fracture. Occurring in the front of the vertebrae, a wedge fracture is when the bone in the front of the spine collapses while the bone on the other side remains unchanged. In addition to wedge fractures, there are two other types of common compression fractures called crush fractures and burst fractures.
Crush fractures happen when the entire bone collapses, not just the front of the vertebrae. A burst fracture is unique where both the front and back walls of the vertebral body have some loss in height, resulting in an unstable and possible neurologic compromise.
Symptoms and Treatment Options
Compression fractures may or may not show symptoms, so it’s important to consult with a doctor if you notice back pain, trouble bending, or curvature of the spine. The pain may be exacerbated when lifting groceries, picking things up off of the floor, or performing any other typical household cleaning jobs.
Treatment options will vary depending on the type of fracture. For the most part, compression fracture patients can expect non-operative treatments that involve pain medication and reduced physical activity. Sometimes a back brace can be beneficial in removing pressure from the fractured vertebrae and added comfort to promote back support.
If the fracture was caused due to osteoporosis, patients are advised to concentrate on this condition to lessen the chance of another bone fracture. Vitamin D supplements, calcium, bisphosphonates, and weight-bearing exercise will all help strengthen the bones and prevent further bone loss.
Surgical procedures for a compression fracture may be needed if the spine is unstable. A vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty involves the injection of a cement mixture into the broken bone alleviate the pain, stabilize the fracture, and prevent a spinal deformity from progressing.
At PA Vascular Institute, our number one goal is to get you better faster. Pair our minimally invasive treatments with only the most cutting-edge technologies to get back on your feet in the fasted way possible. If you are suffering from a compression fracture and do not know where to turn for relief, give us a call and set-up an appointment today!