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Vertebral Compression Fracture (cont.)

Exams and Tests for Vertebral Compression Fracture

  • X-rays: People older than 65 years, who have cancer, or who have had significant trauma may have X-rays performed. If you are younger than 65 years and do not have any medical problems or severe pain, then X-rays may not be necessary.
  • CT scan of spine: If a fracture (bone break) is discovered, then the doctor may want you to have a CT scan to determine the extent of the fracture.
  • MRI of spine: If you cannot hold urine or stool (incontinence) or cannot urinate (retention), weakness in one or both arms or legs, or you are unable to feel your arms or legs, then an MRI may need to be performed. Some hospitals do not have an MRI. You may need to be transferred to another hospital to get the MRI.
  • Spine surgery consultation: If you have a severe fracture, then the emergency doctor may call a specialist to examine you. This may mean that you need surgery for the fracture. Surgery is normally reserved for those with severe pain, weakness, or inability to feel their arms or legs.

Self-Care at Home for Vertebral Compression Fracture

  • Rest
  • Pain relief with ibuprofen or naproxen (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Apply ice to the injured area for the first week, then heat or ice, whichever feels better. Ice should be applied in the following fashion: Place the ice in a bag, wrap the bag in a towel, and then apply to the injured area for 15-20 minutes each hour. Heat applied in the first week after an injury draws more fluid to the area, thereby increasing swelling and pain.
  • When allowed by your doctor, a home stretching and strengthening program
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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