The NeuroMedical Center | Patient Education Library | Compression Fractures of the Spine

What is a spinal compression fracture?

A spinal compression fracture is a type of fracture or break in your vertebrae. The vertebrae are the bones your back that are stacked on top of each other to make your spine. Spinal compression fractures can cause the vertebrae to collapse which can lead to severe pain, deformity, and loss of height.

What Causes A Compression Fracture in the Spine?

Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) is the most common cause of compression fractures.  Spine bones that are weakened from osteoporosis may become unable to support normal stress and pressure. As a result, something as simple as coughing, twisting, or lifting can cause a vertebra to fracture. People with healthy spines most commonly suffer a compression fracture through severe trauma, such as an accident, sports injury, or hard fall. Compression fractures may also occur if cancer from other parts of the body spreads to the spine. Cancer weakens the spine bones and makes them prone to fractures.

 

What are the Symptoms and Complications of Spinal Compression Fractures?

When spinal compression fractures first start developing, you may not feel any or symptoms at all.  Fractures that develop gradually may only cause mild pain, while the pain from sudden fractures can be severe and debilitating.  Later symptoms may include:

  • Limited movement in the spine (difficulty bending or twisting)
  • A decrease in your height (as many as several inches over time)
  • Bending of the spine and a stooped-over posture
  • Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder
  • Weak leg muscles and walking issues

 

What are the Risk factors for spinal compression fractures?

Preventing and treating osteoporosis is the best way to decrease your risk for compression fractures.  To reduce your risk of osteoporosis and certain types of cancer, don’t smoke and limit alcohol use.

Treatment options for Spinal Compression Fractures

If your compression fracture is caused by osteoporosis, your medical provider may treat your condition with bone strengthening medicine and supplements.  You may also be referred to a physical therapist (PT) who can provide you with the right exercises to help strengthen your back and avoid future fractures.  Other types of treatment include:

  • Plenty of rest to let your bones heal
  • Wearing a back brace to relieve pain
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine 

The majority of patients with compression fractures are treated without surgery. When conservative treatment options have proven ineffective, two minimally invasive procedures called vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty may be considered to help stabilize your spine. 

If an injury has caused the fracture, a type of surgery known as spinal fusion may be recommended to repair the bone and join the vertebrae together.

If a spinal tumor is causing your symptoms, you may need radiation therapy as well as surgery to remove some of the bone and treat the tumor.

 

Find Expert Care for Spinal Compression Fractures in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

If you suspect or have been diagnosed with a spinal compression fracture, it is critical that you seek out an experienced team of spine specialists to provide the best treatment for your condition and symptoms.  The NeuroMedical Center takes a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluating, treating and rehabilitating compression fractures of the spine, offering a highly-skilled team of neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, and other neurological specialists to get you better and decrease the chance of future fractures and complications. Call The NeuroMedical Center today (225)768-2050 or request an appointment online today.

Remember, you should always seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if you have any of the following symptoms in addition to back pain:

  • Loss of control of your bowels and bladder
  • Severe pain, numbness, or weakness
  • High fever