6 Signs of a Vertebral Compression Fracture

6 Signs of a Vertebral Compression Fracture

Do you have ongoing back pain that worsens when you stand and eases when you lie down? You may have a vertebral compression fracture. This common fracture, which affects the vertebrae of the spine, can cause a lot of pain.

If you have a vertebral compression fracture, Kenneth Varley, MD, of Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, can help you understand what’s happening in your back and help you get well again. In this blog, Dr. Varley discusses what a vertebral compression fracture is, what some of its signs are, and how it’s often treated.

What is a vertebral compression fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture is a condition in which a vertebra in the spine breaks and collapses, which then compresses nearby nerve tissue. This usually causes intense pain and discomfort.

Osteoporosis is a top cause of vertebral compression fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the body can’t replace old bone with new bone quick enough, which results in porous and weak bone tissue. This can make you more prone to developing fractures, including vertebral compression fractures. This condition can also develop due to traumatic falls or spinal tumors

What are the signs of a vertebral compression fracture?

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of a vertebral compression fracture. However, there are other signs that may indicate you have this problem. Here are six of them:

  1. Pain that worsens while standing
  2. Pain that lessens while lying down
  3. Loss of height
  4. Deformity of your spine
  5. Limited mobility in your spine
  6. Pain that comes on suddenly

Because of gravity, the pain is usually worse when standing or walking, because pressure is put on the fracture. This leads to compression of the nerves in the spine. However, lying down usually takes pressure off of the fractured vertebra, which usually leads to less pain.

You may also experience a loss of height due to the collapsed vertebra. This could be especially true if you have more than one vertebral compression fracture.

Eventually, if vertebral compression fractures aren’t treated, this could lead to deformities, such as a hunched spine. And this could lead to more pain and even problems with mobility. If you suspect you’re dealing with a vertebral compression fracture, prompt treatment is the key to recovery.

How is a vertebral compression fracture treated?

If it turns out that you have a vertebral compression fracture, Dr. Varley can help you get back on your feet. The typical treatment for a compression fracture is known as a kyphoplasty. This is a surgical procedure that allows Dr. Varley to restore the height of the fractured vertebra.

With a kyphoplasty, you lie face down, and Dr. Varley makes one or two small incisions where the fractured vertebra is located. Then Dr. Varley inserts a narrow tube into the fractured vertebra. Then he inserts one or two deflated balloons into the tube and inflates them in the vertebra to restore the vertebra’s height.

Once the desired height is reached, Dr. Varley removes the balloons and fills the excess space with a surgical grade cement. This procedure restores the height of your vertebra and relieves pressure from the nerves and soft tissues in your spine.