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Compression Fracture

What are compression fractures?

Compression fractures are a type of fracture that occurs in the spine and are characterized by a collapse of the vertebral body.  Often associated with the degenerative effects of osteoporosis, these fractures usually cause a decrease in vertebral bone height of 15% to 20%.  They are most frequently found in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar regions of the spine.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of compression fractures may include back pain, deformity such as kyphosis, and a decrease in height.  This can in turn cause a crowding of internal organs and a decrease in muscle mass and a loss of aerobic capacity.

How are compression fractures diagnosed?

Diagnosis of compression fractures includes a review of your health history, a physical examination, and imaging, such as x-rays or MRI.

What treatment options are available?

Because compression fractures are often stable, treatment is usually conservative.  This may include rest, pain medication, and physical therapy.  If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, surgery may be beneficial.  It is also important that osteoporosis, if a contributing factor, be addressed as part of the treatment plan.