What are Compression Fractures and How Can It Affect Me?
There are many reasons you may be experiencing back pain. If a compression fracture is the source of your back pain, you should understand how it occurred and should know that it can be treated.
What Are Spinal Compression Fractures?
A spinal compression fracture occurs when a vertebra in your spine breaks and collapses and is reduced in height by at least 15 percent to 20 percent. While all of the vertebrae in your spine are at risk of this type of fracture, the vertebrae that seem to be the most affected are those that are located in the thoracic spine (upper back). Compression fractures tend to especially affect the lower vertebrae in that portion of the spine and rarely occur above the T7 level. The upper lumbar section of the spine is also prone to compression fractures.
It takes only a single spinal compression fracture to shorten your spine, push it forward and force it out of alignment. Any additional fractures will make the spine even more deformed, which places strain on your back and joints. The misaligned spine caused by compression fractures can impact how well you are able to walk and can place significant pressure on your internal organs, causing health complications that can appear unrelated to your spine.
How Do They Happen?
Compression fractures in the spine can be a result of an injury or a traumatic event. This includes:
- Vehicle accidents
Spinal compression fractures may also be the consequence of bones that have been weakened by a medical condition. If your bones are weak and brittle, a simple motion like opening a window can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis and cancer are commonly associated with spinal compression fractures:
Osteoporosis: This causes bones to become thin and is the most common cause of spinal compression fractures.
Bone cancer: This includes cancers that begin in another part of the body and travels to the vertebrae of the spine.
The cause of your compression fracture will determine what type of treatment plan you may be given. However, two of the most common treatments are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Both procedures are minimally invasive, requiring only a tiny incision. Vertebroplasty entails injecting liquid bone cement in the damaged vertebrae to stabilize the fracture, strengthen the spine and alleviate pain. Kyphoplasty involves the use of a balloon to raise the affected vertebrae so that there is enough space for bone cement to be added to stabilize the fracture.
At Capital City Neurosurgery, Dr. Kiehm and the rest of the staff are committed to providing personalized treatment solutions, such as minimally invasive spinal surgery, that can help patients achieve total spinal health. Contact us today to arrange a consultation if you are suffering from back pain.