Jonathan Aarons M.D.

Tired of Chronic Pain?

Vertebral Compression Fracture

Vertebral Compression Fracture
Vertebral Compression Fracture

The spine is composed of  a column of bones called vertebral bodies.  These vertebral bodies house the spinal chord and protect it.  These bones can be damaged due to trauma or disease and lead to back pain.  The damage can occur due to a fall or injury, infiltration of the bone by tumors or from osteoporosis.  The severity of injury is dependent upon the number of vertebral bodies that are fractured, their location of the back and whether the nerves that exit from the spine are also injured.  The pain can be anything from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain.  The pain may be worsened with taking a big breath.  Injury to the exiting nerves at the site of the fracture may cause numbness and tingling as well as other neurological signs.  Diagnosis of vertebral compression fracture is made from history.  An X-ray of the spine may show the fracture.  MRIs, CT scans and bone scans may also be useful in the diagnosis of vertebral compression fracture.  Blood work can be used to look for the presence of tumors of the prostate, multiple myeloma or parathyroid disease.  The treatment of vertebral compression fracture begins with simple pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.  For severe pain, narcotics may be required.  Interventional procedures can relieve the pain of vertebral compression fractures when conservative measures fail.  These include vertebroplasty, where the fractured bone is injected with cement to stabilize it and kyphoplasty, where a balloon is used to stabilize the fracture from within.

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