Compression Fracture ( Cervical / Thoracic / Lumbar )
Spinal compression fractures can occur in any bone in the body, but they tend to occur most frequently in the spine for non-traumatic reasons. Any of the regions of the spine, cervical, thoracic, or lumbar, can endure a compression fracture. However, when this occurs, it generally occurs in the cervical spine, and it creates a condition known as kyphosis. Kyphosis indicates that the spine has curved too far forward, and it creates a hunched back appearance.
Although either sex can having compression fractures and their complications, women are more at risk for these conditions, especially if they lacked proper calcium or weight bearing exercise in their early years.
The professionals at BASIC Spine are experts in treating all of the conditions of the back, and we are very familiar with the problems that occur due to compression fractures. Not only do we address the cause of the fracture, such as through calcium supplementation, but we can help restore the spine to its normal height. Our surgeons are trained in minimally invasive techniques that can restore the body of kyphotic vertebrae, and these procedures help to quickly relieve the pain that is associated with compression fractures.
Compression Fractures Causes
Trauma is a primary cause of compression fractures of the spine, and it is usually the cause doctors look to first for this condition. A car accident, a fall, or a work injury can cause a compression fracture in any of the vertebrae, and they are usually treated through spinal fusion surgery or hardware installation.
However, the most common cause of compression fractures is osteoporosis, or the weakening of the bones over time due to lack of calcium in the diet.
In fact, calcium intake is so important in preventing the weakening of bones, the government has done research to determine how much calcium you need. The US recommended daily allowance for calcium in those under 50 should be 1000 mg per day.
Women 50-75 should get 1,200 mg per day, and all older adults over 75 should get 1,200 mg. In addition, weight bearing exercise, such as walking, weight training, and aerobics, is vital in increasing the bulk of the vertebrae and preventing fractures.
Compression Fractures Symptoms
Pain is the hallmark symptom of compression fractures. You may feel a sharp, sudden pain in the back if a vertebra breaks quickly. However, it is possible to have progressive pain that worsens over time as the bone fractures by degrees from a lack of calcium.
The pain is generally worse when standing or walking, and lying down can make the symptoms abate for a short time. Bending and twisting tend to cause more pain, and you may lose height due to the compression of the vertebrae. A hunched over back is the hallmark sign of kyphosis, and it can indicate several cervical and thoracic compression fractures.
You may also experience pain while performing certain simple activities. For instance, picking up a bag of groceries, getting a suitcase out of a car trunk, or lifting the corner of a mattress can cause pain. Some of the other symptoms of kyphosis may be present in addition to the neck curvature and loss of height.
You can experience stomach pains if the curvature is severe enough, you may have pain in your hips from the redistribution of weight due to the curve, and you may have trouble breathing because of a reduced lung space. When compression fractures happen immediately or over time, they need to be treated promptly to help restore the spine and maintain independence for as long as possible.
Compression Fractures Treatments
As compression fractures progress, it may be necessary to treat the pain caused by them with medications. For instance, anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce pain, and nerve pain treatments, such as anti-seizure medications, can help with nerves that have become impinged from the narrowing of the vertebrae. Narcotic pain medications are sometimes prescribed if the pain is severe and the surgical procedures for the condition are either ineffective or contraindicated.
Generally, two surgical procedures are considered for compression fractures. The first type of procedure is known as a vertebroplasty, and this involves injecting low viscosity cement into the body of the vertebra. This cement then expands and hardens, restoring the bone to its proper height and strengthening it to carry the load of the body. The second type of surgery is similar, and it is called kyphoplasty.
In this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the vertebral space to restore height. Once the opening is present, the cement is inserted to provide stability. Both procedures are usually performed in a minimally invasive approach, and they have fewer risks than traditional open surgery.
The BASIC Spine neurosurgeons are very familiar with both treatments for compression fractures. Our doctors have done many of these procedures, and they can help to relieve your pain and restore your height. In addition, we have a pain management doctor on staff that can help you with your discomfort from the condition, and she can prescribe medications to help you deal with the chronic pain.