Spinal Fractures

Spinal Fractures Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Approximately 700,000 individuals in the United States experience spinal fractures that are caused by osteoporosis or weak bones. Spinal fractures from osteoporosis are often called compression fractures but are also referred to as osteoporotic fractures, vertebral fractures, and wedge fractures.

Wedge fractures typically occur in the frontal area of the vertebra when they collapse the bone in the front of the spine without changing the back of the same bone.  This creates a wedge-shaped vertebra hence the name wedge fracture.

Although the most common type of spinal fracture is a wedge fracture, crush fractures can arise if an entire bone breaks. Burst fractures relate to a reduced height in the front and back walls of the vertebrae.

What are the Symptoms of Spinal Fractures?

Spinal fractures usually occur after acute back pain and may prompt loss of height, crowding of the internal organs, and loss of muscle as a result of minimal physical activity.

Thoracic kyphosis also known as dowager’s hump is a forward curvature of the upper back and can also be a symptom of spinal fractures.

The problems listed above can also make an individual self conscious and negatively impact their ability to perform everyday living activities. Since most of the damage from spinal fractures is limited to the front of the vertebrae, spinal fractures are usually stable and almost never correlated to any spinal cord or nerve damage.

What Causes Spinal Fractures?

Osteoporosis is the leading cause of spinal fractures. It is known as the thinning of bones and especially prevalent in women who are in the post menopause stage of life. In fact, approximately 25% of postmenopausal women in the United States have experienced spinal fractures. While osteoporosis is more common in women, men can develop the condition and still suffer from a spinal fracture as a result of osteoporosis.

How are Spinal Fractures Treated?

Almost always, treating spinal fractures that have resulted from osteoporosis is a two-pronged approach. This two-ponged approach consists of treating the  spinal fracture and treating the osteoporosis that led to the fracture.

Treating the Fracture

Pain medication, the use of ice or heat for pain, and rest are all several of the most simple ways to treat spinal fractures. In the event that surgery is recommended, a doctor may perform a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.

A vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that works to stabilize the bone and minimize or stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture. Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, and is also designed to stabilize the bone, eliminate or reduce the pain of a fractured vertebra, or replenish lost vertebral height. Learn more about spinal fracture surgery »

Treating Osteoporosis to Prevent Spinal Fractures

An individual who has developed a spinal fracture is at risk for other fractures in the future. Therefore, treating osteoporosis and the underlying cause of spinal fractures is imperative. Treating osteoporosis usually includes hormone replacement therapy for women, calcium supplements, weight-bearing exercises, and an increased intake of vitamin D.

For support with spinal fractures in the Unifour area, contact EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region. Our team of board-certified spine experts perform the highest quality of care. In addition, we do not require an MRI prior to a visit with us and perform all of our surgeries at a nearby hospital to save you a lengthy commute.

You have the option of selecting one of the following hospitals for your surgery or procedure: Frye Regional Medical Center & Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, Caldwell UNC Healthcare in Lenoir, or Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge in Morganton.