What Causes a Compression Fracture

Compression Fracture Pain

What is a compression fracture?

According to Cleveland Clinic, a compression fracture is a break or fracture that occurs in your vertebrae. In other words, the bones in your back that formulate your spine are severely damaged. Although you probably won’t experience many physical symptoms when a compression fracture initially occurs, there is a chance that your vertebrae can collapse. As occurrence progresses, symptoms may include back pain, a decrease in height, limited spinal movement, and a stooped-over posture. As we mentioned in a previous article, Osteoporosis is the main culprit when it comes to compression fractures, however, there are several other factors.

Top 5 Causes of Compression Fractures

  • Osteoporosis: A common bone disease that results in an increasing loss of bone density. This leads to structural deterioration of bony tissue which can result in cracked or broken bones, including compression fractures.
  • Physical Trauma: Any high-energy physical trauma to your spine – such as from a car accident, severe fall or a sports injury – can result in a compression fracture.
  • Cancerous Tumors: Originating in your spine, a cancerous tumor can spread throughout the spinal area. When the tumor grows to replace healthy cells with abnormal cells, a compression fracture can transpire.
  • Congenital Diseases: A congenital disease, such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta or Brittle Bone Disease, can cause compression fractures as the disorders create fragile bones that are more likely to break.
  • Osteomyelitis: If left unattended, this bacterial or fungal infection of the vertebrae can cause a loss of blood supply to affected bones in your spine. As a result, a compression fracture can easily occur.

Compression Fracture Prevention

Since osteoporosis is one of the primary causes of compression fractures, the best way to prevent fragmentation and vertebral collapse is to address osteoporosis in its early stages. The easiest way to do this is by making lifestyle changes that promote a healthier lifestyle. Some of these changes include:

  • Participating in a high calcium diet or eating foods with higher levels of calcium.
  • Drop the cigarette habit or avoid social smoking situations.
  • Try to decrease your alcohol intake or eliminate drinking altogether.
  • Avoid participating in long-term dieting plans or regimens.
  • Make an effort to exercise more routinely or find ways to increase your heart rate.
  • Move to an osteoporosis-friendly climate like Phoenix, Arizona. Places with dry weather and lots of vitamin D (from sunshine) are highly beneficial.

Who is at risk?

At this point in the article, you’ve probably realized that people with osteoporosis are the most susceptible when it comes to analyzing compression fracture risks. Although other diseases, trauma, and cancer can play a role, osteoporosis tends to be at the root of the problem. The chances increase when aging conditions become a factor. For example, post-menopausal women and older men with osteoporosis are more likely to experience spinal fractures or a collapse of their vertebrae. As people get older and the functionality of their body slows down, it’s easy to be consumed by the treatment of common conditions. When they don’t take time to treat the whole body, additional problems like compression fractures can occur.

Race, body type, and corresponding conditions also play a role in the development of compression fractures. Those with a Caucasian or Asian background, thin or petite body types, experiencing early menopause or lactose intolerance may be at a higher risk for developing vertebral compression fractures. Moreover, osteoporosis patients who have already dealt with a compression fracture are at higher risk for experiencing another one. Although prevention is important, proper treatment will help you avoid recurring breakages.

How to Treat a Compression Fracture

When a compression fracture takes place, it can be extremely worrisome. Without treatment, things can only get worse. As we mentioned before, a complete vertebrae collapse can be devastating. At the same time, there are several ways to treat a fragmented spine. Although the causes of compression fractures help orthopedic and spinal specialists determine the best method of treatment, there are a number of options available.

Non-surgical Treatment Options

  • Pain medication
  • Bed rest
  • A back brace
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication to induce bone formation

Surgical Options

  • Kyphoplasty: A procedure that places a catheter with a balloon into the collapsed vertebra and inflating the balloon to restore the height of the collapsed vertebrae and injecting surgical cement. The goal of this procedure is to keep the fracture from getting worse and restore the vertebrae height.
  • Vertebroplasty: This procedure is similar to Kyphoplasty but does not insert a balloon. Instead, a cement mixture is inserted into the vertebral body to support the collapsed vertebrae. The goal of this is to eliminate pain.
  • Spinal Fusion: This procedure is more commonly used for compression fractures caused by injury as it is high risk for elderly patients. This procedure is done to repair the bone and fuse vertebrae together.

If a compression fracture is related to osteoporosis, your physician will want to initially treat the osteoporosis to prevent further damage. While certain medications can help strengthen your bones, calcium and vitamin D supplements will also do the trick. Aside from oral treatment options, physical therapy can help you strengthen your back and prevent additional fractures down the road.

At the same time, not all compression fractures can be treated this way. If your fracture is caused by a cancerous tumor, then it may require radiation therapy or surgery to remove the bone while addressing the tumor itself. Since the main cause is growth-producing abnormal cells, precautionary measures need to be taken.

Treating Compression Fractures at DVVI

If you have osteoporosis and are experiencing symptoms of a compression fracture, we’d love to ease your pain. Our state-of-the-art vein and vascular center in Peoria, Arizona was built to provide patients with top-of-the-line care and technology to treat life-altering symptoms. If you live in the Phoenix metro area and are looking to address a compression fracture, our kyphoplasty treatment methods are second to none! Feel free to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Rami or a member of our qualified staff today!

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