Vertebral Body Compression Fracture

The vertebral body is the weight-supporting, solid central part of a vertebra (any of 33 bones of the spinal column). A vertebral body compression fracture is when a break collapses one or more vertebrae of the spine. Vertebral compression fractures are often linked to osteoporosis or thinning of the bone tissue over time. Such fractures may also be caused by trauma. 

Vertebral compression fractures are common, especially in older adults. 

As we get older, spinal fractures and spinal changes can actually lessen the height of our spine and we get shorter. 

Symptoms

The typical symptom is pain in the area where the fracture has occurred.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on:

  • A medical history and a physical exam
  • Imaging that may include X-rays, CT scans and/or MRI of the spine

Treatment

Non-surgical Treatment

Typical non-surgical treatment may include:

  • Pain medication
  • Rest
  • Injury avoidance
  • Bracing

Surgical Treatment

If non-surgical treatment doesn’t help or the pain gets worse, the physician may recommend surgery:

  • Kyphoplasty – Similar to vertebroplasty, a surgical instrument is inserted into the spine with a balloon that is inflated. The balloon is then filled with bone cement to stabilize and strengthen the vertebrae. 
  • Vertebroplasty (video and brochure) – in which an acrylic cement is injected into the collapsed vertebra to stabilize and strengthen the vertebral body

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