Vertebral Compression Fractures
Vertebral compression fractures are a type of spinal injury that occurs when one or more vertebrae in the spine collapse or become compressed. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as trauma, osteoporosis, or cancer.
Symptoms of vertebral compression fractures can include back pain, loss of height, and a rounded or hunched posture,”explains Orthopedic Surgeon Rolando Garcia, M.D.
In some cases, the fracture may also cause nerve damage or other neurological symptoms, such as weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
Treatment for vertebral compression fractures typically involves a combination of conservative measures such as pain management, physical therapy, and bracing. In some cases, minimally invasive procedures may also be used to treat the fracture, such as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.
Vertebroplasty involves the injection of a special cement-like material into the affected vertebrae to stabilize the fracture and reduce pain. Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, but it also involves the use of a balloon to create space within the affected vertebrae before the cement-like material is injected.
In cases where the fracture is severe or conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary. Surgical options for vertebral compression fractures may include spinal fusion or the removal of damaged bone or tissue.
Prevention of vertebral compression fractures involves maintaining good bone health and preventing falls, particularly in individuals with osteoporosis or other conditions that increase the risk of bone fractures. This can include regular exercise, a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.
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In what cases surgery may be necessary to treat vertebral compression fractures?
Surgery for vertebral compression fractures is typically considered as a last resort when the fracture is causing severe pain, spinal instability, or neurological symptoms. Surgery may also be considered if the fracture is causing a deformity or if the individual is at risk of developing complications such as spinal cord compression or progressive kyphosis (a forward curvature of the spine).
Examples of when surgery may be necessary to treat vertebral compression fractures include:
- Spinal Fusion: Spinal fusion surgery may be recommended if there is instability in the spine due to the fracture. In this procedure, two or more vertebrae are fused together using bone grafts or implants, which can provide stability and prevent further collapse of the vertebrae.
- Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty: These minimally invasive procedures involve the injection of a special cement-like material into the affected vertebrae to stabilize the fracture and reduce pain. In some cases, a balloon may be used to create space within the affected vertebrae before the cement-like material is injected.
- Vertebrectomy: In severe cases, a vertebrectomy may be performed, which involves the removal of a portion of the affected vertebrae to alleviate spinal cord compression or relieve nerve impingement.
It is important to note that surgery is not always necessary or appropriate for treating vertebral compression fractures. A medical professional will assess the individual’s specific situation and consider all non-surgical treatment options before recommending surgery. Please check our two locations. For all scheduling questions or for appointments, call 305.937.1999