A vertebral compression fracture is caused by forcefully compressing the vertebra beyond what the bone can withstand. This normally occurs either by trauma or a weakening of the vertebrae (bones of the spine). Trauma like this is often seen in elderly or cancer patients whose bones have become weak due to the sickness or simply from significant osteoporosis.
Healthy patients who have a vertebral compression fracture must have suffered extreme trauma, as it takes a large amount of force to break the bones in the spine. When this condition occurs in a healthy patient, it is often the result of falling from a height or other injury, such as those sustained from car accidents.
What symptoms are there of a vertebral compression fracture?
A lot of patients have no symptoms and the compression fractures are silent. If the VCF is symptomatic, the first symptom a patient will experience tends to be pain in the lower to middle back area, with some patients having difficulty walking. Where the pain is depends on which level the fracture occurs in.
The upper back and neck may also be painful and some patients experience pain in the hip, thigh, or abdominal region. Pain and some numbness may wrap around the flank into the abdomen or chest area. This can be caused by compression of the intercostal nerves where the fracture has occurred.
Some patients may experience a fracture in multiple vertebrae at the same time or consecutively, leading to a forward curvature known as kyphosis. This may be tiresome to patients and make it difficult to walk and see straight. Patients may also suffer a visible loss in height due to the compression of the spine.
What are the treatments available for Vertebral Compression Fracture?
After initial diagnosis, there are several treatment options available. For mild and stable injuries, a back brace may provide support to the spine while the bones heal and prevent further fractures. For patients suffering a VCF, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication may be recommended to provide relief.
In some circumstances, the fracture may lead to irritation of the surrounding nerve roots. In those cases, an epidural injection may provide relief.
Minimally invasive surgery may also be an option to treat the back. These procedures are referred to as a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. Both are performed as an outpatient, and there is over an 85% good to excellent outcome immediately.
Compression fracture is evident on the right.
How to Prevent Vertebral Compression Fracture in the future?
Preventing osteoporosis can help to prevent vertebral compression fracture from occurring again. A healthy and well-balanced diet is recommended. A regular exercise routine including strength training helps to keep bones strong and prevents injury. Weight bearing xercise also increases the capabilities of the muscles surrounding the spine, enabling them to support the bones better.
Supplements recommended on a daily basis include vitamin D and calcium to build up bone strength. A doctor will also recommend tips and advice on preventing osteoporosis for each individual situation. Prescription medications may include Fosamax and others designed to increase bone density.
A typical looking vertebral compression fracture.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a Vertebral Compression Fracture and would like the best treatment available in San Antonio, contact Texas Pain Network today. The practice has a Double Board Certified pain management doctor accepting over 50 insurance plans at multiple locations. Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures are offered.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!