Vertebral compression fractures involve one or multiple small breaks in the vertebrae and occur when the bony block or vertebral body collapses. Compression fractures often occur within older individuals over the age of 50 with osteoporosis (weakening of bones in postmenopausal women and older men). Other causes include sport or motor vehicle injuries and tumors. Generally fractures occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Symptoms can include:
- Sudden onset back pain
- Back pain that is exacerbated when standing and improved when lying down
- Decreased height
- Stooped posture and limited spinal mobility
- Numbness and tingling
If a compression fracture is suspected, appropriate forms of diagnosis can include a physical exam, bone density scan, X-ray, MRI, or CT imaging. Regular screenings are beneficial to detecting osteoporosis at an early stage.
How does it work?
Patients are recommended to attempt a trial of TLSO (thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis) bracing to allow for natural healing of the vertebrae. Other conservative treatments include physical therapy for symptomatic relief. If pain is severe, unbearable, or refractory to bracing and PT a kyphoplasty would be appropriate.
The procedure typically lasts one to two hours and involves anesthesia (general or local) while the patient is under complete sedation. Under X-ray guidance, a needle with balloon is placed into the fractured vertebrae. A special cement filling is injected into the fracture location, providing long-term stability and strength to the vertebrae.
Via anonymous patient (76 y/o female): “After the kyphoplasty I have noticed 60-70% improvement in pain and mobility after just two weeks.”
Via daughter of anonymous patient (81 y/o female): “She was previously unable to perform house chores but after the procedure she can now complete them along with daily tasks without assistance.”