Symptoms and Signs of Vertebral (Spinal) Compression Fracture

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/15/2021

Doctor's Notes on Vertebral (Spinal) Compression Fracture

A vertebral compression fracture is a condition in which an individual bone of the spine (vertebra) becomes compressed due to trauma. Usually, it requires significant trauma to break the bones of the spine. However, in certain cases, such as in elderly people and in people with osteoporosis or cancer, these bones can be fragile and can break with little or no force (these are known as pathologic fractures). Compression fractures most commonly occur in the lower back, but they may develop in any portion of the spine.

Signs and symptoms of a vertebral compression fracture include

  • pain,
  • numbness,
  • weakness, or
  • tingling.

Other associated signs and symptoms can include

What Are the Treatments for a Vertebral Compression Fracture?

Treatment for a vertebral fracture is as follows:

  • Nonsurgical
    • Rest
    • Ice packs initially
    • Slow return to mobility
    • Heat
  • Vertebroplasty (surgical): injection of low viscosity bone cement under pressure into the vertebral body to stabilize the fracture and aid healing and pain
  • Kyphoplasty (surgical): insertion of an inflatable balloon into the vertebral body and pressurized to increase some or all of the vertebral height lost with compression, then vertebroplasty is done

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.