The study of a medical studentCompression fractures are a common spine injury that can be quite painful. This injury can interfere with your day-to-day life, making it so that simple activities like bending over and sitting down cause you pain and discomfort. A compression fracture is typically defined as a vertebral bone in the spine that has decreased at least 15 to 20% in height due to fracture. These fractures can occur anywhere in the spine, but most commonly happen in the upper back. If you are wondering what your back pain is, or have recently been diagnosed with a compression fracture, we’ve outlined 4 facts about them to help you better understand what they are.

  1. Compression Fractures Are Often a Result of Osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis(opens in a new tab) causes bones to become weak and brittle to the point where a fall or even mild stress, like coughing, can cause a fracture. These fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist, or spine. Bones are constantly being broken down and replaced, but with osteoporosis, the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the loss of old bone. There are not typically any signs of osteoporosis in the early stages, but when bones have been weakened, you may experience symptoms such as:

    • Loss of height over time.
    • Back pain, caused by a fracture.
    • A bone that breaks more easily than expected.
    • A stooped posture.

    If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor to be evaluated for osteoporosis and begin developing a treatment plan.

  2. There Are Different Types of Compression Fractures

    While a certain type of compression fracture may be most common, there are also other types of compression fractures, such as:

    • Wedge Fracture - A compression fracture can also be referred to as a wedge fracture, as the fracture usually occurs in the front of the vertebra, collapsing the bone in the front of the spine and leaving the back of the same bone unchanged, resulting in a wedge-shaped vertebra.
    • Crush Fracture - A crush fracture occurs when the entire bone breaks, rather than just in front of the vertebra.
    • Burst Fracture - A burst fracture involves loss of height in the front and back walls of the vertebral body. Burst fractures can be unstable and result in progressive deformity or neurological problems.

    If you have sustained any type of compression fracture, you should visit your neurologist for treatment.

  3. The Causes and Symptoms of Stress Fractures

    Compression fractures may not always cause any symptoms, but if they do, you may experience the following:

    • Pain in the back, arms, and legs.
    • Numbness and/or weakness in the arms or legs.
    • Noticeable loss of height over a long period of time.
    • Difficulty walking.
    • Bladder and bowel control issues.
    • The inability to bend or twist the spine.

    A compression fracture that occurs suddenly can be very painful, and a compression fracture that develops gradually will only cause pain gradually.

    Compression fractures rarely occur in a healthy vertebra. They often develop in those who have a vertebra that’s already been weakened. The most common cause is Osteoporosis, as the disease puts you at a higher risk.

    While they are less common, there are a few other cases in which you could get a compression fracture, such as:

    • Lifting something that puts extra stress on the spine.
    • Falling, especially if you land on your feet which puts pressure on your spine.
    • Trauma like car crashes or gunshots can also cause compression fractures, although it is less often.

    If you are at high risk for compression fractures, you can sustain one just from stumbling or getting out of bed. It is important to see a specialist to avoid further complications.

  4. Common Treatments for Stress Fractures

    Treatment for compression fractures can vary based on what is needed. Pain medications, modified physical activity, or wearing a brace can be recommended to offer support for back pain. If the fracture is caused by Osteoporosis, treating the Osteoporosis can aid in treating the spinal injury.

    If the spine is unstable, surgeries like kyphoplasty may be necessary. Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that stabilizes the bone, stops spinal fracture pain, and ideally restores all of the vertebral height that was lost. During this procedure, you will be put under local or general anestesia, and after the surgery is completed you will likely experience quick pain relief.

Compression fractures are painful, and they can put you on the sidelines. If you or a loved one has sustained a compression fracture, Dayton Neurologic Associates not only offers kyphoplasty, but non-surgical treatments as well to relieve you of your back pain and help you get back to your life.

Dayton Neurological Associates provides Dayton, OH with minimally invasive spinal surgeries for chronic pain relief. With cutting-edge diagnostics and high success rates, Dr. Michael P. Verdon improves patients’ function and quality of life. We offer services ranging from kyphoplasty to concussion treatments. If you would like to schedule an appointment, schedule one online today, or contact us at (937) 797-3137 for more information.