Compression fractures can occur anywhere in the spine, but the condition often occurs in the lumbar and thoracic spine. Compression fractures are one of the most painful conditions treated by our specialists, and many patients may not be aware that their pain is caused by a spinal fracture. Our pain specialists can use diagnostic imaging tools like CT or MRI scans to detect the compression fracture and start patients on their journey to a pain-free lifestyle.
Compression fracture symptoms begin as acute back pain but may develop into a chronic pain condition. The pain is often debilitating, causing limited mobility or even disability in patients. Though it may not be noticeable at first, some fractures may cause a loss of height as a result of a deformity of the spine. Pain is not typically constant, and patients may feel relief upon laying down or resting the spine.
Vertebral body compression fractures occur when a bone within the spine collapses. This can create a deformity and cause stress on the spine. Compression fractures may be the result of another underlying condition. This is typically the case in patients with osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakening of the bones. However, a patient may also develop a compression fracture as a result of a trauma to the spine. Even if the spine is not directly impacted, any situation that causes stress on the body can cause a fracture, like a car crash, forceful landing, or jump.
Treatment for vertebral body compression fractures may begin with resting and icing the back in order to promote healing. This may be paired with medication or a back brace for support. Our pain specialists have found that these conservative measures may be enough to treat a patient’s pain, but other patients may benefit from a minimally invasive surgical procedure known as kyphoplasty. During this procedure, a specialist uses a small needle to enter the vertebral body and uses a balloon-like tool to “inflate” the spine back to its original position. Cement then fills the area and restores the spine to its previous height. The procedure is relatively short and provides stability and pain relief to patients suffering from a compression fracture.