Vertebral Compression Fracture

FAQ’s on Vertebral Compression Fracture

Vertebral compression fractures respond well to bracing or a vertebroplasty procedure.

What is a vertebral compression fracture?


When the bones of the spine are subjected to a trauma so severe it compresses and breaks them, it is referred to as a vertebral compression fracture. Most often it is the bones in the lower (lumbar) spine which are fractured, but it can occur anywhere along the spine.

If the bones are excessively fragile and tend to fracture easily, as is the case with many elderly people or some cancer patients, the trauma need not be extremely severe for vertebral compression fracture to occur.

What are the common symptoms of vertebral compression fracture?


The common symptoms of vertebral compression fracture are pain that usually is felt in the lower back, although sometimes it may occur in the mid-back and wrap around the torso and rib cage. Weakness, tingling and numbness may suggest abnormal pressure on nerves at the point of fracture.

What is the cause of vertebral compression fracture?


Trauma, osteoporosis, and diseases which affect the bone can cause vertebral compression fractures. Trauma severe enough to produce vertebral compression fracture might occur in a car accident or if someone were to fall from a high elevation, landing on their feet or buttocks.

Osteoporosis, a bone disease that reduces bone density, increases the likelihood of a vertebral compression fracture occurring with only minor or no trauma at all. Osteoporosis occurs most often in post-menopausal women but can also occur in older men.  People who take steroid medications over a prolonged period of time may be prone to vertical compression fractures. Diseases like bone cancer or Paget’s disease also increase the risk of its occurrence.

How is vertebral compression fracture diagnosed?


For patients 65 years of age or older and have suffered serious trauma or have cancer, X-rays may be necessary to provide images of the spine. If a broken bone is revealed, your doctor may recommend a CT scan to assess the severity of the fracture. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide cross-sectional images of the affected area and show the fracture which can tell the pain doctor if it is a new or old fracture.

How is vertebral compression fracture treated?


When a vertebral compression fracture occurs, mild to moderate pain can be reduced with over-the-counter medication. In the event of more severe pain, opiates like oxycodone may be prescribed by your Orange County pain doctor. A back brace will eliminate most of the pressure on your damaged vertebrae, provide much-needed support to the spine, and inhibit movements that prevent healing.

Resting while applying ice compresses followed by heat compresses to the affected area will help reduce inflammation and relieve moderate pain. Once your fractures have healed, your doctor may recommend an exercise regimen to stretch and strengthen the muscles which support your back, thereby minimizing the likelihood of further complications. On average, three months are required for a vertebral fracture to heal completely. Monthly X-rays will track the progress of your healing.

If the vertebral compression fracture pain is not improving with conservative treatment, then a pain management doctor in Orange County can perform a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. These procedures are outpatient, over 90% effective at pain relief, and have a low risk profile.


If you or a loved one is suffering from a vertebral compression fracture, a vertebraoplasty or kyphoplasty procedure may provide excellent relief very quickly and help you get back to being more active.


Call (714) 261-9131 for more information and scheduling today!