Vertebral Compression Fractures
Millions of people in the United States suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis, cancers which invade bones, and traumas to their spines from accidents or falls. These conditions can lead to fractures of the back bones called vertebral compression fractures.
When these bones fracture, it can be very painful any time pressure is placed on them, just like if an arm or a leg bone were broken.
Patients with fractured back bones can present differently, but often the pain is located right in the area of the fracture with some pain radiating from the bone. The pain is usually much worse with any movement or activity, but can be improved by lying very still.
To diagnose a vertebral compression fracture, your doctor will ask you a series of important questions, perform a physical exam, and likely will order a series of imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI's, CT scans, or bone scans.
Once a fracture is diagnosed, there are various options for treatment. Rest, pain medications, sometimes braces, and time can allow the fracture to heal with no further intervention needed.
However, if your pain does not improve in 6-12 weeks, or if it is affecting other aspects of your health then the fracture may need to be fixed. Options for fixing vertebral compression fractures can include open surgical stabilization as well as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.
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