A vertebral fracture can be treated with a host of methods.
Causes and Symptoms of Vertebral Fracture
One of the symptoms of osteoporosis is a vertebral fracture. That fracture may present with sudden back pain, which is worsened by walking or standing. Lying on the back may lessen the pain. Deformity, disability, limited mobility in the spine, or a loss of height are other osteoporosis symptoms that are manifested with broken vertebrae. Routine activities can cause fractured vertebrae, such as bending or lifting, or a patient may have fallen. With advanced osteoporosis simply turning in bed, exiting the tub, coughing, or sneezing can damage the bones. A chronic achiness might follow the bone healing, and the bone itself takes about 6 weeks to heal. Inactivity and compensating for the injury can lead to longer term back issues.1 Patients could fracture the lumbar or thoracic spine. The lumbar region is the lower back and the thoracic area is mid-back. In these cases, the spinal column can be damaged from a fall, sports accident, or perhaps a car crash. Osteoporosis is another risk factor. A compression fracture occurs when the front part of the vertebra breaks and the back does not. An axial burst fracture is another type of flexion fracture. Extension fractures, such as a flexion/distraction fracture, are a pulling apart of the vertebra. Transverse process and fracture-dislocation are two types of rotation fractures. In the case of the fracture-dislocation, the “vertebra may move off an adjacent vertebra”, leading to spinal cord compression.2 Wedge fractures, crush fractures, and burst fractures are all compression fractures. The wedge fracture occurs when the front crushes, but the crush fracture impacts the entire bone. A burst fracture “involves some loss of height”, and these are unstable and can lead to “progressive deformity or neurologic compromise”.3
Self-care at home for a vertebral compression fracture, includes rest, NSAID medications, ice, and, under medical advice, a strengthening and stretching program. A doctor could prescribe a back brace, heat compresses (later), opiates or muscle relaxers, or even recommend hospital admission or surgery.4 Osteoporosis fractures may start with little pain, but over time there could be 6 inches of height loss or a stooped posture (kyphosis). Sometimes patients will experience weakness, numbness, tingling, bladder or bowel issues, and trouble walking. Pain medication has side effects, surgery might lead to complications, and back braces can weaken bones further (leading to more fractures). Physiotherapy could be useful to improve strength and movement.5 To prevent spine fractures it is important to have a diet that includes vitamin D and calcium. Strengthening and weight-bearing exercises are also helpful.6
Learn about massage and chiropractic for osteoporosis.