What is a vertebral compression fracture?
Vertebral compression fractures occur when the normal vertebral body of the spine is squeezed or compressed. The bone collapses when too much pressure is placed on the vertebrae, resulting in pain, limited mobility, loss of height, and spinal deformities. In severe compression fractures the vertebral body is pushed into the spinal canal which will apply pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
What are the causes of vertebral compression fractures?
Vertebral fractures results from weakened spine caused by osteogenesis imperfecta, osteoporosis, tumor, and trauma. Osteogenesis imperfect is a hereditary disease resulting in bone fragility. It is an autosomal dominant disorder of connective tissue that is characterized by easily fractured bones.
What are the symptoms of vertebral compression fractures?
Your child may experience severe pain in the back which worsens on standing or walking and decreases when resting. Other symptoms include, weakness, and numbness in the affected areas, disability, limited spinal mobility, and loss of overall height. The symptoms which indicate multiple fractures in the spine are hunch back, bulging stomach, shortness of breath, hip fracture, and gastrointestinal problems. Children's who sustain multiple compression fractures may have hunch back (kyphosis or “dowager’s hump”), gastrointestinal problems, hip pain, and shortness of breath.
How is a vertebral compression fracture diagnosed?
Your doctor may require diagnostic tests such as X-ray, MRI scan, and bone scan which help to determine and confirm the fracture.
What are the treatment options?
The treatment for vertebral compression fractures aims at reducing the pain, stabilizing, and repairing the fracture. The non-surgical measures include medications, back braces, bed rest, and certain exercises.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to relieve bone, muscle and nerve pain. A back brace may be suggested to support the back and immobilize the movements.
Surgery may be needed if the pain still persists despite of non-surgical treatment. There are two minimally invasive surgical procedures for treating vertebral compression fractures are:
What are the preventive measures?
The following measures may be practiced to decrease the risk of developing vertebral fractures:
Click on the link below to find out more from the orthopedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.