When a spine becomes compressed due to trauma, a vertebral compression fracture can occur. The most common vertebrae broken is the lower back, but any portion of the spine could break. In most cases, an incredible amount of trauma is needed for this fracture to occur (such as a terrible car accident). However, for elderly people with osteoporosis or people who have cancer, a fracture can occur quite easily since their bones are very fragile. The final cause of a vertebral compression fracture would be a disease that affects the bone called a pathologic fracture. Pathologic fracture is a “fracture occurring in the vertebra due to preexisting disease at the fracture site” as stated by eMedicinehealth.com.
Some symptoms of vertebral compression fractures are pain in the lower back, hips, abdominal, or thigh areas. Numbness, tingling, and weakness around the spine could indicate nerve damage around the fracture. If the fracture is actually pushing on the spine, losing bladder control, or the inability to urinate could both be symptoms of a vertebral compression fracture. If you or a family member are experiencing these symptoms (especially if they are children or an elderly person), please Find a doctor today for an evaluation. A trip to the emergency room is suggested if you or a family member experience a high fever in addition to the symptoms listed above.
To diagnose the vertebral compression fracture, an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI can be used. The best way to treat the fracture is to simply rest. Eliminate all activity that puts strain on the back. Ice or heating pads can be used to help ease the pain, whichever one is most comfortable for the patient. Pain relievers such as Tylenol can be used as well. Most patients will also undergo physical therapy after a certain amount of time of rest. In some rare cases, surgery is needed to correct the fracture.
There are a few quick tips that you can incorporate into your life to prevent a vertebral compression fracture. First, eat a well-balanced diet. Getting proper nutrition makes your bones stronger. Exercise regularly, exercise increases the strength of your muscles that protect your spine. If you smoke, quit smoking. Tobacco has been shown to deteriorate the bones. Finally, if you are at risk for osteoporosis, or have osteoporosis, a calcium and vitamin D supplement may be needed to help protect your bones.