Compression Fractures of the Spine

What Are Compression Fractures of the Spine?

Compression fracture of the spine occurs when the drum-shaped bones in the spine weaken and collapse.

The bone is often weekend by osteoporosis, cancer, or other diseases and compresses into a wedge shape.

Treatment Options

Treatment options may include:

  • Braces
  • Bone cement injections
  • Normal activities (e.g. walking)
  • Pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
  • Vertebroplasty


Symptoms include:

  • Sudden, sharp pain
  • Slow developing pain
  • Mild pain
  • Severe pain
  • Dull pain
  • Pain worsens when standing, walking, bending, or sitting for long periods of time.
  • People may become shorter.
  • The back becomes rounded (Kyphosis).

Diagnosis / Tests

Facts about compression fractures:

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Kyphoplasty
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Physical exam and evaluation
  • Tomography
  • X-ray

Types of Compression Fractures of the Spine

Wedge fracture – Most common compression fracture

  • Front of vertebra collapses while the back of it remains intact, creating your weight shape
  • Can lead to a spinal deformity (hunchback)

Crush fracture

  • Fracture throughout the entire vertebra
  • Bone collapses on itself
  • Mechanically stable

Burst fracture

  • Breaks in several directions
  • Sends bone fragments into surrounding areas of spine
  • Most serious (unstable)
  • Requires immediate medical attention


Causes & contributing factors may include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Metastatic disease
  • Cancer


Facts about compression fractures:

  • Common in elderly people with osteoporosis.
  • Can result from little or no force.
  • 2 out of every 3 people with osteoporosis-related compression fractures have no symptoms.
  • Pain starts to decrease after 1 month and can disappear after 3 months.
  • Osteoporosis is most common in elderly women.
  • Walking standing, or sitting for long periods of time aggravates pain in people with osteoporosis-related compression fractures.

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