Compression Fracture Pain
Pain symptoms associated with compression fractures are variable for each patient and depend on how and why the compression fracture occurred. Multiple treatment options are available at Nura Pain Clinics.
Compression Fracture Treatments
Treatment for the compression (vertebral) fracture may include pain medicine, back brace, and physical therapy for supporting and strengthening the back. In cases of osteoporosis, medications and calcium supplements can help prevent further fractures by strengthening bone.
Surgery may also be recommended. The two most common types of surgery for this type of fracture are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Both types of surgery provide pain relief from compression fractures and can help the fracture heal.
This minimally invasive treatment is designed to help reduce or eliminate pain caused by a fractured vertebra and stabilize the bone. Low viscosity cement is injected directly into the collapsed vertebral body under high pressure, with the goal of stabilizing the fracture and relieving the associated back pain. Vertebroplasty Benefits and Video
Similar to vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure designed to reduce or stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture, to stabilize the bone, and to restore some or all of the lost vertebral body height due to the compression fracture. Kyphoplasty Benefits and Video
Compression Fracture Pain Symptoms
One or more of the following pain symptoms may indicate a compression fracture and be an indication that you should seek compression fracture pain relief:
- Sudden, severe back pain that may or may not be associated with trauma.
- Worsening pain when standing or walking or with activity.
- Pain may be relieved with rest or lying down.
- Pain associated or increased with bending or twisting motion.
- Height loss. More noticeable with multiple level compression fractures. With each level of vertebral collapse, the shorter stature becomes more noticeable.
- Deformity of the spine. Usually seen as a curve or “hunchback” shape in the back, termed kyphosis.
- Abdominal pain. This can be caused by the shorter spine putting pressure on the stomach leading to stomach and digestive issues such as loss of appetite, constipation and weight loss.
- Breathing difficulty due to severe spinal compression causing the lung to not function properly.
Compression Fracture Pain Causes
The spine is made up of many strong bone segments, from the neck to the low back, called vertebrae. Compression fractures in the spine occur when there is a collapse of one or more of these vertebrae.
These compression fractures in the spine can be caused by injury, such as a hard fall, but often occur in patients with arthritis or osteoporosis.
In more rare instances, a compression fracture could be caused by a tumor in the spine. The cancer weakens bone supportive structures causing destruction of parts of the vertebra and eventual collapse.
Compression Fracture Risk Factors
Almost two-thirds of spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many patients think their back pain is merely a sign of aging and arthritis and not compression fracture pain.
Women with osteoporosis and older individuals tend to have less bone density and are at an increased risk of compression fractures. Osteoporosis thins the bones making them become weak and unable to bear the normal weight and pressures of daily activities. The simple motion of bending forward may be enough to cause a fracture in these weakened vertebrae.
Approximately 40 percent of all women will have at least one spinal compression fracture by the time they turn 80 years old, making it the most common type of fracture seen with osteoporosis.
It is important that patients with sudden, severe back pain, especially women over the age of 50, seek medical care right away. Treatment in these circumstances can reduce the chance of further compression fractures.
A physical exam will reveal tenderness over the affected area. Further testing using imaging studies such as a spinal x-ray can show a compressed or shortened vertebra. A compression fracture can be diagnosed by comparing the vertebrae with other vertebrae to see if it appears “compressed” or shorter. If there is concern that the compression fracture was caused by a tumor or severe trauma, a CT or MRI scan may be necessary, as well. In certain circumstances, if there is suspicion that the spinal cord may be injured, a myelogram may also be performed in addition to a thorough neurological exam, to determine possible spinal cord damage.
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