Most people think that back pain is only a sign of getting older but, this is not always the case as the cause of the condition could be different. Persistent back pain may also be a sign of small cracks in the vertebrae, and they could become bigger if a timely diagnosis is not done. Sometimes, the situation becomes too serious that surgery is required for the treatment, and it may also require Ortho Implants.
The condition where tiny cracks occur in the vertebrae is known as vertebral compression fracture, and this will be our topic of discussion in the post. Let us briefly see what the condition is.
Vertebral Compression Fractures – An Introduction
A compression fracture is a condition characterized by a small crack in the vertebrae. Such types of fractures may cause vertebral collapse and make the spine unstable. In such a situation, the broken piece of the vertebra may pinch on the nerves and the spinal cord, and this may cause some serious complications including loss of sensation.
Causes of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Vertebral compression fractures occur due to multiple causes that may be traumatic as well as non-traumatic.
If we talk about one of the commonest causes of the condition, then it is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is an orthopedic condition in which bones become weak and porous. Thus, they are highly prone to get fractured. People suffering from this condition can develop vertebral compression fractures even while doing daily/regular activities. Sometimes the situation is too critical that even forceful sneezing may result in a compression fracture.
Besides osteoporosis, postmenopausal women are also prone to developing compression fractures. Compression fractures are also noticed in the elderly as aging is one of the causes of weak bones as well as osteoporosis.
People younger than 55 may develop vertebral compression fractures due to metastatic tumors.
Symptoms of Vertebral Compression Fractures
The symptoms of compression fractures may vary depending upon the location and severity. Some of the commonly associated symptoms may include:
- Back pain that starts suddenly
- Extreme pain while walking or standing
- Limited spinal movement
- Loss of height
- Disability and deformity
Diagnosis of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Medical history checks and physical examinations play a vital role during the diagnosis of the condition. This helps them rule out the possibilities of other conditions and identify visible symptoms associated with the compression fractures. Besides this, imaging tests help confirm the condition, identify its severity, and decide the best procedure for the treatment. The tests that the healthcare service provider may order include:
- CT Scan
- Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry
Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures
Two types of treatments can be followed for vertebral compression fractures:
- Non-Surgical Treatment
- Surgical Treatment
In mild cases, the symptoms associated with the condition can be improved without surgery. According to the reports, pain associated with compression fracture may not last more than 3 months if it is allowed to heal on its own. For those who experience severe pain, it can be managed by reducing activities that put pressure on the spine. Back bracing may also be suggested to support the spine and medicines are prescribed to curb pain & inflammation.
Surgery is often recommended in people with severe conditions and when conventional treatment methods fail to provide any relief. Vertebroplasty is the surgical procedure that is carried out for the treatment of severe vertebral compression fractures.
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