The middle and lower back are the areas of the spine often affected by spinal compression fractures. These are breaks in the one or more of the bones of the spine caused by added pressure (compression) on the spine. Compression fractures may result from an injury or bone weakness from a specific condition or nutritional deficiencies. Dr. Bae at The Spine Institute Center offers an overview of spinal compression fractures.
Types of Compression Fractures
A spinal compression fracture may lead to a noticeable reduction in height (burst fracture). Fractures can affect different parts of the spine. If the front of the vertebra becomes weakened (wedge fracture), discs may slip out of place. In some cases, the entire bone breaks (crush fracture).
Causes and Contributing Factors
Arthritis that affects spinal joints (osteoporosis) is a common cause of compression fractures because the condition also weakens bones. A quarter of all postmenopausal women in the United States experience compression fractures due to bone weakness. Other contributing factors may include:
- Some forms of cancer
- Smoking (causes a loss of bone thickness)
- Dietary imbalances (especially calcium)
Treating Spinal Compression Fractures
Minor fractures often heal with rest or other conservative treatments such as heat or ice therapy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain medications may help, but some drugs are only meant for short-term use. There are two common surgical options:
- Vertebroplasty – A special type of cement is injected into the fracture under high pressure to stabilize the spine
- Kyphoplasty – A surgical balloon is inserted through a tube to reposition the fractured bone before cement is used to stabilize it.
Keeping the bones of the spine as healthy as possible can reduce the risk of compression fractures. A common sign of a fracture is pain that goes away after rest or if the affected area becomes aggravated when touched. If other treatments fail, the break has weakened the spine, or the fracture is affecting a nearby nerve, you may need spine surgery. Los Angeles residents should get in touch with Dr. Bae at The Spine Institute if they believe a minimally invasive procedure might be the solution to alleviating their pain.
Whether you have a spinal compression fracture or another injury that is causing severe neck or back pain, the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute can help. We specialize in a wide variety of procedures, including spinal fusion and Mobi-C disc replacement. Los Angeles residents can call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.