Are you suffering from sudden, intense lower back pain? Compression fractures are a type of spinal injury that arises when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) suffer from a trauma that causes them to collapse or break.
Compression fractures occur most often in the lower back or lumbar region of the spine. They can cause severe pain, limited mobility, and other complications, making them an incredibly serious medical issue that needs prompt attention. Fortunately, with the proper treatment, most patients can fully recover.
In this article, we will explain what compression fractures are, their causes, signs and symptoms, how they’re treated, and when to see a doctor.
Causes Of Compression Fractures
Causes of compression fractures include the following:
Compression fractures are a common symptom of osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become brittle and weak due to inadequate calcium levels. When bones are weakened and unable to carry the weight of your body, they can easily fracture when subjected to additional pressure.
Certain infections in the spine, such as TB or osteomyelitis, can weaken the bones and lead to fractures. This is especially true if there is a large amount of inflammation or swelling in the area, as it can add additional pressure to already weakened vertebrae, making them more likely to fracture.
Accidents and falls can also cause compression fractures. They are especially common in elderly individuals with weak bones due to osteoporosis and are more prone to falls due to age-related factors such as decreased muscle strength and balance.
Metastatic tumors are cancerous tumors that have spread to the bones of the spine. These tumors can cause pain and pressure on the bones, leading to the destruction and weakening of the vertebra and a higher risk of compression fracture.
Signs And Symptoms
There are several factors to look out for, which may indicate that you have a compression fracture. These include:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the lower back or lumbar region: This pain may worsen when bending or twisting your back and during strenuous activities.
- Limited mobility: Compression fractures can make it difficult to move your back, and you may find it painful or difficult to perform certain movements.
- Difficulty standing up straight: Compression fractures can cause the vertebral column to become misaligned, making it harder for you to stand up straight.
- Deformity: Compression fractures can cause the back to become curved, resulting in a visible deformity.
These symptoms may worsen over time if left untreated, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How Compression Fractures Are Treated
Compression fractures can be treated in various ways, depending on the severity and location of the fracture. In mild cases, pain medications and physical therapy may be enough to reduce the pain and swelling.
In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the spine and repair any damage. This may include:
- Surgical fusion: Joining two or more vertebrae together
- Instrumentation: Inserting screws, rods, plates, etc., into the spine
- Vertebroplasty: injecting cement into a fractured vertebra to stabilize it
When To See A Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Compression fractures can cause significant pain, and limited mobility, so prompt treatment is essential for a successful recovery.
At Pontchartrain Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, our team of board-certified physicians is dedicated to helping patients get the treatment they need for their compression fractures. We offer a wide range of services, from medical and physical therapy to minimally invasive procedures such as vertebroplasty. If you have a compression fracture, fill out our contact form today and let us help you find the relief you deserve.