Vertebral Compression Fracture

Vertebral Fracture

Osteoporosis is a highly common condition in which bones become weak and brittle. One complication that can result from osteoporosis is a vertebral compression fracture, a type of injury where one or more vertebrae collapse due to bone compression. Although vertebral compression fractures can occur due to trauma to the spine, more than 700,000 cases are the result of osteoporosis.

If you are experiencing severe back pain or you notice a loss of height or slight deformity to your spine, contact Desert Institute for Spine Care. When you visit one of our Phoenix-area clinics, you can count on precise diagnosis and quality treatment for your spinal symptoms.

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woman suffering from lower back pain
Older man pressing against his back from pain
Doctor pointing out areas on a human spine model

What Is a Vertebral Compression Fracture?

Also called a spine compression fracture, a vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is a break that occurs when the vertebral body in the spine collapses. This type of fracture is most common in the middle back, called the thoracic spine, usually in the lower part of this region. A vertebral compression fracture is caused by trauma compressing the bones and is common in people who have osteoporosis.

Sometimes, a VCF occurs without any evident pain. However, it can also lead to severely painful symptoms. Over time, this type of fracture can cause spinal deformity and reduce the height of the entire spinal column, diminishing a person’s height.

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There Are a Few Different Types of Vertebral Compression Fractures:

  • Wedge fracture: This prevalent type of VCF refers to the front of the vertebra collapsing while the back of the bone remains unchanged, producing a wedge-shaped vertebra.
  • Crush fracture: This type of fracture causes the entire bone to break.
  • Burst fracture: This type of fracture results in height loss in the front and back of the vertebra. Burst fractures are generally more unstable and can result in progressive issues.

What Causes a Vertebral Compression Fracture?

The leading causes of vertebral compression fractures are the following:

  • Osteoporosis: When bones become brittle and lose bone mass, this can cause cracks or breaks in the vertebral body.
  • Trauma: A severe injury, such as falling from a great height, a car accident or a sports injury, can cause one or more vertebrae to break.
  • Bone infection or cancer: In younger patients with no history of trauma, VCF may be due to an underlying condition. The bones of the spine can become weakened by infection or cancer.

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Detailed drawings of the spine and other bone areas of the human body.

Chronic Symptoms of a Vertebral Compression Fracture

A vertebral compression fracture can cause band-like pain that moves from the spine to the sides of the back. Other chronic symptoms of VCF may include:

  • Sudden back pain.
  • Pain that intensifies when standing or walking.
  • Pain that decreases when lying on your back.
  • Limited spinal mobility.
  • Eventual loss of height.
  • Eventual deformity or disability.

The majority of damage caused by VCF is usually limited to the vertebral column. If the fracture is stable, it rarely leads to any nerve or spinal cord damage.

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Treatment Options for Vertebral Compression Fracture in AZ

Many underlying spine conditions can lead to acute or chronic back pain, leaving patients wondering what could be the cause. At DISC, our orthopedic surgeons will determine an accurate diagnosis so we can provide you with treatment options based on your condition.

Our Personalized Pain Diagnostics (PPD) utilize proprietary diagnostic techniques as well as the latest technology to pinpoint your specific pain generator — whether it’s a vertebral compression fracture or another underlying condition. With an accurate diagnosis comes more precise treatment options. We are leaders in minimally invasive spine care, including conservative treatment and endoscopic surgical techniques.

We first start with nonoperative options to provide pain management and treatment that allows healing to take place, including:

  • Medication: We may provide analgesic medication to provide pain relief or medications that can help improve bone density.
  • Back bracing: The use of a back brace provides support and reduces motion of the injured vertebrae, giving the spine a chance to heal.
  • Therapeutic injections: Injections can provide incredible pain relief and reduce inflammation at the injury site.

If conservative treatment options prove ineffective, the board-certified surgeons at DISC specialize in a wide range of surgical options, from minimally invasive procedures to more traditional spine surgeries. Surgery for vertebral compression fracture focuses on stabilizing the collapsed vertebrae. Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are ultra-minimally invasive surgical procedures that treat vertebral compression fractures of the spine.

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Surgical Treatment Options for Vertebral Compression Fractures

Chronic low back pain due to spinal compression fractures can be treated surgically with one of the following:

  • Vertebroplasty – through an ultra-minimally invasive incision, a doctor injects bone cement mixture into the fractured vertebrae.
  • Kyphoplasty – through an ultra-minimally invasive incision, a balloon is expanded within the fractured vertebrae to create a cavity. Then liquid cement is injected in the cavity and balloon removed.
  • Spine Fusion Surgery a minimally invasive procedure that fuses fractured vertebral body to that of the adjacent vertebral body. Using bone graft as a bridge then screws and rods to form one stable segment reduces the pain in the spine. Spine fusion surgery is usually the last line of treatment.

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Contact Orthopedic Doctors Who Treat Vertebral Compression Fracture in AZ

If you require vertebral compression fracture treatment in the Phoenix, AZ area, turn to the trusted doctors at DISC. We will listen to your concerns and guide you as we develop a personalized treatment approach for your care.


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