Vertebral Compression Fracture

WHAT ARE VERTEBRAL COMPRESSION FRACTURES (VCFS)?

Fractures in the vertebral bodies are common, especially among the older population suffering from osteoporosis. The condition is debilitating and can not only restrict movement of the patient but also affect his/her health.

WHAT CAUSES VCFS?

As mentioned, osteoporosis increases the risk of VCFs and it is thus the most common cause of the condition. However, there are other possible causes too. A metastatic tumor can also cause a fracture in the spine. Any injury where the trauma or impact is squarely on the spine can lead to a fracture as well. This  may include a primary cancer condition such as multiple myeloma.

 

People who don’t have any medical history of back injury or osteoporosis can experience VCFs because of cancerous tumors, which usually emanate from the spine. It is ideal to consult a doctor as soon as you feel discomfort in the spinal region.

 

Younger individuals may sustain vertebral compression fractures as well, but it’s usually due to a substantial trauma. This may include a fall from a height most commonly.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

The most common symptom of a vertebral compression fracture is pain in the back which starts suddenly without warning and increases in intensity when you move around. Generally, patients feel better when lying down. It may be that pain wraps around the midsection, especially with thoracic area fractures that irritate the intercostal nerves.

Due to this condition, the range of motion of the spine decreases which can cause deformity and eventually lead to height loss.

HOW IS A VCF DIAGNOSED?

Doctors generally rely on medical imaging for diagnosing a VCF such as x-rays and an MRI. You will have to undergo a complete physical examination before the doctor decides on a course of action.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE?

There are a number of non-surgical treatments available for VCF. Patients may be asked to get bed rest and use pain medication. In some cases, the patient will have to wear a brace. Doctors also ask patients to limit their activity level, but at the same time abstain from complete physical inactivity.

 

Procedures such as a kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty may help considerably. They have over a 90% success rate for immediate pain relief and helping patients to walk better and perform activities of daily living. The Chicago pain management doctors at Premier Pain & Spine are experts in the treatment of vertebral compression fractures, call us today!