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Compression Fractures

Compression fracture is a type of fracture that affects the spine. It is generally caused by osteoporosis. This fracture usually results of a decrease in height of the vertebral bone in the spine.

While compression fractures can affect any vertebrae in the spine, they are most common in the thoracic spine or upper back.


The most common symptom of compression fractures is acute back pain, which may become chronic. Other associated symptoms include deformity, loss of muscle conditioning, loss of height, and even crowding of internal organs. The change in posture, pain and other symptoms can affect the day-to-day activities of the person and may even lower one’s sense of self-image.

In sum, the following are the common symptoms of compression fractures:

  • Sudden onset of pain in the back
  • Pain gets worse when walking or standing
  • Height loss
  • Limited spinal mobility
  • Disability and deformity
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Osteoporosis is the major cause of vertebral compression fractures. This is why such fractures are most common in women, especially those aging 50 and above. It also affects men over age 50. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by thinning of the bones, making them weak and brittle. This makes the spine prone to collapse, deformity and fractures. Because of the fracture, the spine loses its normal strength and shape, and as a result, causes a lot of pain.

Other causes of compression fractures include trauma and tumor. Trauma could result from a fall, an accident and other events that stress the bones in the spine. When this affects the spinal vertebrae, it can cause minor or severe compression fractures. In other cases, cancer or tumor may also cause vertebral fracture.


There are various treatment options for compression fractures, depending on the cause. For instance, if the cause is osteoporosis, the treatment should target the condition. Osteoporosis treatment is highly important in preventing further compression fractures. Bone-strengthening drugs include bisphosphonates, which stabilize and restore bone loss. The pain and other symptoms need to be addressed as well.

Treatments for spinal compression fractures are categorized into two: nonsurgical and surgical treatment.

Medications help provide pain relief. There are also medications for stabilizing bone density. Common medications include analgesic, NSAIDs, narcotic pain medications, muscle relaxants, antidepressants and acetaminophen. Taking these medications as required or as prescribed, coupled with rest, reduction of activity and certain lifestyle changes; help speed up the healing process of the fractured spine. If the fracture is minor, the person will likely be able to return to performing everyday activities soon.

Aside from pain medication, activity modification and rest, back bracing also helps in the healing process of the compression fracture. The brace provides additional external support to the back, limiting its motion, allowing it to heal in time and protecting it from further damage. Braces also help reduce the pain.

If the pain and osteoporosis medication, activity modification, rest and back bracing do not work, surgical treatment may be the best option. This is especially true in chronic pain caused by severe spinal compression fracture. Two of the most common surgical treatments for compression fractures are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

Vertbebroplasty is effective in providing pain relief from the compression fractures and in stabilizing the bones. On the other hand, kyphoplasty helps correct bone deformity caused by the fracture. It also relieves the pain.

AZ Pain and Spine provides appropriate treatments for vertebral compression fractures. We manage the pain associated with the fracture. We perform various procedures and offer pain management solutions, depending on the individual need of the person.

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Compression fracture causes acute to chronic pain in the back. Because of this, it is important to reach out a pain specialist for relief and management of the pain. When it comes to pain, pain specialists are the professionals to go to. Speaking of which, we have a team of experienced, highly qualified and passionate pain specialists who work their best in providing the best treatment and pain management plan for the patients.

Make an appointment with us today to get started with your treatment.