Is Back Pain
A Complete Guide to Spinal
Compression fractures are a common cause of both acute and chronic back pain. Untreated compression fractures can cause significant health risks and even physical deformities. If you think you may have a compression fracture, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you have been diagnosed with a compression fracture, it’s important to know all your treatment options to determine the best one for you and your life.
A spinal compression fracture is a crack – or fracture – located in the vertebrae of the spine. Vertebrae are the individual bones that make up your spine. A fracture in the bone causes it to lose its natural height and collapse, resulting in severe pain and compression of the surrounding nerves. A compression fracture can occur in any vertebrae of the spine. However, they most often occur in the thoracic (middle) or lumbar (lower) spine.
Compression fractures can happen in healthy vertebrae because of a trauma, but they are usually the result of soft, weakened bones. The most common cause is osteoporosis. Vertebrae can also be weakened by an infection, a tumor, or cancer treatment.
Pain from a compression fracture can be acute or chronic. Symptoms vary depending on the location, cause, and circumstance under which the fracture occurred. Initially, a compression fracture causes severe, acute pain. If not treated early, it will commonly cause chronic, long-term back pain. Compression fractures can cause pain while standing, walking, twisting, or bending. You may be sensitive to the touch where the fracture is located. If the fracture results in compression of a nerve, it can cause lower extremity pain, numbness, or weakness.
Compression fractures do not always cause pain. Some fractures result in a loss of height, limited mobility, or a hunched forward position. It’s important to see a physician to properly diagnose a compression fracture.
Vertebral fractures can heal on their own. They typically take about three months to repair fully, and restricted physical activity along with bracing is required to ensure proper healing.
A more immediate treatment option is kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that uses bone cement to stabilize the bone and restore the vertebrae’s natural height.
Kyphoplasty is a safe, effective treatment for back pain caused by a spinal compression fracture. It is a minimally invasive procedure that can be completed in the office under light sedation. For many patients, pain relief will be immediate.
Studies have shown that kyphoplasty reduces a patient’s mortality (risk of death) compared to conservative management. In addition, kyphoplasty does not increase the risk of future fractures, which has historically been a misconception that has been proven false by several studies.
During the procedure, your physician will use a needle to insert a small balloon that will inflate to bring your collapsed vertebrae back to its standard height. The space is then filled with fast-drying bone cement, which immediately stabilizes the fracture and alleviates the pressure on the surrounding nerves. This eliminates the pain.
Discharge instructions may vary, but because the procedure doesn’t require any stitches, sutures, or staples, most patients can return to regular activity the following day.
Kyphoplasty is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in the office under light sedation, making it a very affordable treatment option. Your kyphoplasty can often be scheduled the same day as your appointment. No hospitals. No general anesthesia. No wait to relieve your pain.
Contact us today for more information on treatment of a compression fracture. To schedule an appointment, call 904.593.6101.