Vertebral compression fractures can lead to various types of back pain. The fracture occurs when a bone in your spine (called the vertebrae) compresses due to excessive force from trauma or an accident. The most common cause is natural aging as older people start losing bone mass and strength. Aging is why fractures are most common in patients over 60 years old. While the condition can’t be cured, various treatments can help in alleviating the symptoms.
Medical Conditions That May Lead to Vertebral Compression Fractures
Several medical conditions can put you at risk for a vertebral compression fracture. The most common include:
- Pathologic Fracture: A pathologic fracture is when the vertebra “breaks” due to a pre-existing disease. This disease is usually from cancer in the bone, but may be from other diseases like bone infection or Paget’s disease.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone density is reduced at a rate faster than normal. Less density puts the patient at a higher risk of sustaining a fracture. Osteoporosis is most common in elderly men, people with a history of steroid use, and women who have recently completed menopause.
- Trauma: Trauma is any serious external force that can damage the vertebrae. Incidents like long falls, car accidents, and sports injuries are the most common occurrences of trauma.
Vertebral Compression Fracture Symptoms
Because a vertebral compression fracture can happen anywhere in the spine, a patient can feel a number of symptoms. The sensations associated with this condition vary between patients.
- Losing Control of Bowels: When a fractured vertebra is pushing on the spinal cord itself, it can interrupt with natural bowel movements and control. These symptoms are usually concurrent with a feeling of weakness in the leg making it difficult to walk.
- Numbness or tingling: When the fracture is compressing the nerves, your body may not be able to accomplish fine motor skills like moving fingers, arms, legs, or toes.
- Pain: The most common symptom of a vertebral compression fracture. Pain is often localized around the lower back, but may reach up to as far as the neck. Abdominal, hip, and thigh pain may also occur.
Treatment for Vertebral Compression Fractures
If you are experiencing back pain so intense that is stops you from carrying out daily tasks like walking, sleeping, or going to work, it is best to see your doctor as soon as possible. Your physician may refer you to a pain expert if he can determine that your pain is from a vertebral fracture. Several treatments for alleviating your discomfort exist, including:
- Physical Therapy
- Oral Medication
- Small Life Changes (if the pain is not considered particularly intense)
For the best pain solution, an expert can provide you the guidance you need. The Garden State Pain Center has a combined 50 years of experience helping patients in New Jersey with their chronic pain. Contact us today at one of our offices for an appointment.