If so, it is important to know that these fractures can happen to anyone, and knowing about them is essential for maintaining good spinal health and wellness. So, let's discuss some information on vertebral body compression fractures to help you better understand this topic!
What Does It Feel Like?
If you have a vertebral body compression fracture, pain will likely occur in your back. The pain can present in different ways; sometimes it may be sharp or dull or even worsen with movements such as sitting or standing. Since these fractures have a compression component to them, you may even lose height or have changes in posture.
What Are Vertebral Body Compression Fractures?
To better understand what exactly vertebral body compression fractures are, it helps that we know some information about the spine. Your spine is made up of many small bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae sit on top of one another like blocks to create your spine. They're strong, but like any other bone in your body, they can also break.
A vertebral body compression fracture happens when one of these vertebrae gets compressed or squished on top of one another. It’s like taking a block of Styrofoam and squishing it to make it into a wedge shape. These fractures can be caused by things like accidents, falls, trauma, or even conditions like osteoporosis which is a condition that makes your bones softer and more prone to fracture.
How Are They Diagnosed?
Compression fractures are diagnosed by your doctor. Typically, this is done through testing and imaging such as X-rays or MRIs, to see what's going on inside your spine. These tests can show any changes or deformities in normal anatomy of the spine.
These fractures are typically treated non-surgically but on occasion need to be treated with surgery. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome! Here are some common treatments:
- Rest: Your doctor may tell you to take it easy for a while to give your spine a chance to heal.
- Pain Medication: Doctors may prescribe medications in order to address the pain that comes with the fractures.
- Bracing: This is an option to provide extra stability and support to allow the fracture to heal.
- Physical Therapy: Once the fracture is healed, physical therapy is very beneficial. Overall, it can increase stability of the spine without bracing and improve core and back strengthening as a whole.
- Surgery: In cases where fractures are new or relatively new, it may be beneficial to address with bone cement through a procedure called a kyphoplasty to restore bone height and stability.
- Osteoporosis Treatment: If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and this attributed to your fracture, it may be beneficial to take preventative measures to prevent future fracture from occurring due to the soft bone. Treating osteoporosis can be discussed in further detail when meeting with your doctor as there are many medications on the market
What Is A Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a medical procedure used to treat vertebral body compression fractures that are either very acute and painful or not healing properly with conservative treatment. Here's a quick summary of kyphoplasty:
- Purpose: Kyphoplasty is performed to relieve pain and stabilize vertebral body compression fractures.
- Procedure: During a kyphoplasty, your surgeon inserts a small balloon into the fractured vertebra and inflates it to create a cavity and then fills this cavity with bone cement to restore height and stability of the vertebrae.
- Pain Relief: The injected cement hardens quickly and provides immediate structural support to the fractured vertebra reducing your pain and improving spinal alignment.
- Minimally Invasive: Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, as it involves only a couple small incisions and does not require open surgery.
- Benefits: The main benefits include pain relief, improved spinal alignment, and improved overall stability of the spine. It can also help you regain mobility decreasing your risk for other health problems from occurring.
- Recovery: Recovery time after kyphoplasty is usually relatively short simply because of the quick relief of pain allowing for you to return to normal activities sooner rather than later.
- Risks: Risks that are associated with kyphoplasty are no different than those of any medical procedure. Specifically, there is risk for infection, cement leakage, nerve injury, or allergic reactions to materials used.
Kyphoplasty is typically recommended after conservative treatments like pain medications, bracing, and rest have not provided adequate pain relief. This is a reasonable conversation to have with your doctor if your pain is not well controlled.
Preventing Vertebral Body Compression Fractures
In order to prevent these fractures from occurring, here are some helpful tips:
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Calcium and vitamin D are very important for strong bones and overall bone health, so make sure you're getting enough of these nutrients.
- Exercise Regularly: Weight-bearing exercises like walking and isometric core and back strengthening
- Avoid Smoking and Excess Alcohol: These are very detrimental to bone health.
- Fall Prevention: Be aware of your surroundings as falls are one of the leading contributors to these fractures.
- Regular Check-ups: Stay familiar with your health and schedule routine visits with your doctor to monitor things such as bone density.
Vertebral body compression fractures might seem concerning or scary, but by taking the correct steps in your day-to-day life and taking care of your overall health, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing one of these fractures. Your spine is a very important part of your body, so it is very essential to take care of it. If you ever develop any concerns about your back or worried about a possible compression fracture, don’t hesitate to contact us at our office! We are happy to help. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome!