Vertebral Compression Fracture

What is it?

A compression fracture occurs after a vertebra softens and gradually becomes malformed; if additional internal or external forces are applied, the bone will weaken and crack.

What causes it?

Osteoporosis is the number one cause of vertebral compression fractures, followed by trauma.

What are the symptoms?

Common complaints range from local pain to radiating pain. You may have leg pain or pain in the buttocks, as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness-depending on the amount of contact with the nerves.

An inability to control urine or stool or to initiate a urine stream could indicate that the slippage may be pushing on the spinal cord itself. This is deemed a medical emergency, so you should seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common treatments?

Common treatments include cortisone injections straight into the joint, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hot packs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic exercises.

If diagnosed as necessary, a surgical procedure can remove any contact that a vertebra has with a nerve and prevent further slippage of the other vertebrae.

Which treatments work best?

The best strategy is prevention. Proper diet and exercise should keep your bones healthy and strong. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, seek professional help with your nutrition and exercise program.

Of course, once the fracture has happened or you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is recommended that you seek professional help from a qualified expert who can incorporate the most comprehensive conservative approach possible.

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