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Spinal Fractures & Compression Fractures

What Is a Spinal Compression Fracture?

Compression Fracture

A compression fracture of the spine comes from a small break or a crack in one or more of your vertebrae. Vertebrae are the bones that make up your spinal column. You have 33 vertebrae in your spine from the top of your neck to the base of your pelvis. They’re categorized in different sections, from the top: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx. Most of your vertebrae allow a range of motion while housing and protecting your spinal cord and nerve roots.

Over 1.5 million vertebral compression fractures occur every year, most often to elderly women with osteoporosis. If you’ve fractured your spine, you feel intense pain with any movement. The fracture may also pinch the nerves exiting your spinal canal, leading to symptoms elsewhere. Spinal fractures may deteriorate your posture, leading to kyphosis.

A vertebral compression fracture requires the attention of a trained specialist. Premier Brain & Spine boasts the best spine doctors in New Jersey and New York. If you’re experiencing back pain or other symptoms, these specialists use advanced techniques to treat a broad range of spinal conditions.

How Do Spinal Compression Fractures Happen?

Compression Fracture

Compression spine fractures occur because of excessive pressure on the vertebral column of your spine. The spine’s anatomy allows for flexibility, but extreme movements and strain on the bones can cause a fracture. The ways compression spine fractures happen include:

  • Osteoporosis. This condition weakens bones, making them fragile and vulnerable to cracks. Mild stress on vertebrae affected by osteoporosis may cause compression fractures.
  • Spinal injuries. Auto accidents are a common cause of spinal fractures. When your back absorbs most of the impact, your spine becomes vulnerable in an accident. Any significant trauma on your spine, from falls or other accidents, causes compression fractures in the spine.
  • Cancerous tumors. Metastasis is the spread of cancerous tumors to other parts of your body, which include your spine. When tumors grow on your vertebrae, they weaken the bones, increasing the risk of compression fractures.
  • Daily activities. Heavy lifting, poor exercising routines, bending and twisting are normal activities that can cause compression fractures.
  • Sporting activities. Contact sports increase the risk of spinal cord injuries and complications, such as fractures.

Premier Brain & Spine, an advanced orthopedic center, has ten locations in NJ and NY. Each facility relies on the latest diagnostic equipment — including digital x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) — to identify the source of your pain. The board certified specialists also have access to the best technology for treating spinal conditions.

How Can I Identify a Spinal Compression Fracture?

Spinal compression fractures cause painful symptoms that limit your quality of life. The fracture affects not only your spine, but the nerve roots passing through your vertebrae. If you have a spinal compression fracture, early diagnosis improves your chances of successful treatment. The symptoms of a vertebral compression fracture include:

  • Sudden back pain that can turn into chronic back pain
  • Pain that gets worse with standing or walking
  • Pain that eases when you lie on your back
  • Radiculopathy or nerve damage
  • Tingling and numbness in your back and extremities
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Limited ability to twist and bend your back
  • Loss of height
  • Radiculopathy
  • A stooped posture, curved upper back or hunched-back appearance

During your consultation, your spine surgeon examines you to determine if you have a fracture and if you do, its exact location. With a diagnosis, your doctor creates an individualized treatment plan.

Am I at Risk of Spinal Compression Fractures?

While compression fractures can happen to anyone, some people are more vulnerable. Risk factors for vertebral compression fractures include:

  • Advancing age. If you’re over 50, you may have a spinal fracture if you’re experiencing back pain. Your bones are more prone to cracking or breaking with advancing age.
  • Gender. Women are at a higher risk of spinal compression fractures. Old age, osteoporosis and menopause are all factors that increase women’s vulnerability.
  • History of spinal fractures. If you’ve suffered a compression fracture before, you’re at a higher risk of another fracture of the spine.
  • Extreme sports. If you’re involved in contact sports, you’re at a high risk of spinal damage, which includes a spinal fracture.
  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the most common cause of vertebral fractures.

If you fall in any of these risk categories, look for any signs of back pain. The onset of nagging pain over a period of time points to a compression fracture. Your doctor at the NY or NJ spine center has the right equipment to correctly diagnose your condition so you get the right treatment.

How Are Spinal Compression Fractures Treated?

Your doctor chooses the most appropriate treatment for you after your diagnosis. Some effective treatments for spinal compression fractures include:

  • Vertebroplasty. This procedure is a minimally invasive, non-surgical therapy that strengthens a broken vertebra. Your doctor injects an orthopedic cement mixture into the fractured vertebrae to reinforce the bone.
  • Kyphoplasty. This spinal procedure is similar to a vertebroplasty, but your surgeon first inserts a balloon into the fracture to expand the space. Your doctor then adds the cement into the expanded fracture to restore its original size.
  • Pain medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications or suggest over-the-counter pain relievers or muscle relaxants.
  • Supportive devices. A back brace is a solution to ease pain by providing support for your spine. The brace reduces movement to give the fractured vertebrae time to heal.

The team at Premier Brain & Spine treat a wide range of spinal conditions, including spinal fractures, compression fractures, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease and other problems.

How Can I Prevent Spinal Compression Fractures?

Some ways that you can prevent vertebral compression fractures include:

    • Diet and nutrition. If you have osteoporosis, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D strengthens your bones and reduces the risk of fractures.
    • Physical therapy. To strengthen your bones, your doctor recommends therapy to strengthen muscles and maintain bone density.
    • Radiation therapy. If you have a cancerous tumor, radiation therapy reduces the risk of bone fractures.
    • Lifestyle changes. Quit smoking, limit alcohol use, exercise and use proper lifting techniques. These changes prevent spinal fractures.

If you’re suffering from debilitating spinal pain, contact the spinal specialists at Premier Brain & Spine. They have offices in New Jersey at Hackensack, Paterson, Edison, Union, Rutherford, Freehold, Bayonne, West Orange, and West Caldwell, and in New York at Goshen.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190