Compression fractures-Symptoms, causes, and treatments
A compression fracture is a type of fracture that occurs when a bone in the spine of the vertebra collapses. A wedge fracture is the most regular and common type of compression fracture. In this type of compression fracture, the vertebral body collapses and the bone takes the shape of a wedge. In a situation, where multiple vertebrae get fractured, the condition is referred to as multiple compression fractures. This situation is very critical and can lead to a spinal deformity, which is known as kyphosis. It can result in loss of height. A compression fracture usually occurs in the lower or middle spine. Here is some more information about a compression fracture.
What are the symptoms of a compression fracture?
The symptoms of the compression fracture depend on its type and they may or may not occur. The primary symptoms of compression fracture include:
- Pain and stiffness across legs, arms, and back.
- Weakness and numbness in legs or arms.
- In critical cases, the patient may experience loss of weight.
- A compression fracture can be extremely painful if it occurs suddenly.
- In general, a compression fracture grows gradually and the pain increases in tandem.
What are the causes of a compression fracture?
- Weaker and softer bones are a prime cause of a compression fracture.
- Bone thinning conditions such as osteoporosis can lead to compression fractures among females aged more than 50 years.
- If one has fragile bones and a weaker vertebra, it can lead to compression fractures if they slip while carrying heavy objects.
Who is at risk of a compression fracture?
- People with osteoporosis and cancer that has been spreading in their bones are at the highest risk of developing compression fractures.
- Cancers such as lymphoma and myeloma can cause compression fractures.
What other factors influence compression fractures?
- Race– Asian as well as Caucasian women are at a higher risk of compression fractures.
- Age– Women about the age of 50 years have higher chances of developing compression fractures.
- Weight– Skinny women tend to develop compression fractures.
- Smoking– Smoking can lead to bone thinning and can cause a compression fracture.
What are the diagnostic procedures for a compression fracture?
Doctors always refer to the medical history of a patient and conduct physical examinations to understand if there is a compression fracture. Compression fractures usually occur on weaker bones. Therefore, infections, tumors, or osteoporosis are the key indicators. To confirm a suspected compression fracture, doctors may perform the below tests.
- X-ray– An X-ray-based scan is conducted to study the spinal nerves, bone, and vertebra.
- MRI– A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based image scan of bones may follow an X-ray to confirm a compression fracture.
- CT scan– A computed tomography (CT) scan is a computer-based advanced image technology used to study any disorders of the internal human body. It provides more detailed and in-depth images than X-rays can.
- Nuclear bone scan– Radiology-based nuclear bone scans are also performed to study bone condition to confirm a compression fracture
What are the treatments available for compression fractures?
Treatments are decided based on the characteristics, the type, and the stage of the compression fracture. Some of the treatment options include:
- For the majority of the compression fractures, non-operative treatments are recommended. Such treatments include a mix of pain relieving medication along with a plan of physical activities.
- The orthopedic surgeon may also suggest the patient wear a brace to support the back.
- As part of medication, the doctor may also prescribe vitamin D supplements along with oral calcium tablets.
- Based on regular monitoring and check-ups, compression fractures heal in three to six months.
- If the spine appears to be very unstable, the doctor may also suggest surgery. This usually is kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty.
If one notices any considerable signs of a compression fracture, it is necessary to consult the doctor today. Early detection leads to successful treatment.