The Patient's Guide to Spinal Compression Fractures

When you experience back pain, it is easy to pass it off as something you don't really need to worry about. In reality, this could not be further from the truth. As we age, the truth is that we may actually experience cracks in our vertebrae. These fractures can eventually add up and lead to spinal compression fractures, which result in the collapse of vertebrae. This guide will help you determine how to identify, prevent, and treat compression fractures in the spine. 

What Causes Spinal Compression Fractures?

The main cause of spinal compression fractures is the weakening of the bones. Women are more likely to experience these fractures when they also experience osteoporosis, which is a condition that thins the bones. The crevices form when you bend to lift something, slip over something, or nearly fall. In those with severely weakened bones, coughing and sneezing can result in fractures.

Who Is at Higher Risk for Compression Fractures?

Individuals with osteoporosis are the most likely to experience these fractures. People who have cancer in their bones also experience frequent fractures in the spine and other bones. This is actually how some people discover that they have one of these conditions. Older individuals are more likely to experience them than younger ones, and thin people are at higher risk for fractures. Smokers also tend to lose bone thickness faster than individuals who do not smoke.

What Should You Do About Compression Fractures?

It is important that you speak to your doctor if you experience back pain. This pain could indicate that you have a deeper issue, like a fracture. Without proper treatment, these fractures can develop into more serious issues.

What Treatments Are Available for Spinal Compression Fractures?

In most cases, the discomfort caused by these fractures can be mitigated with pain medication. The doctor will also advise that you reduce physical activity to allow the bones to heal. In some cases, taking medication to boost bone density is also helpful. You may also choose to wear a back brace that will prevent your back from moving in a damaging way. 

In rare cases, people need surgery to heal a compression fracture in the back. This is the case if the fracture does not heal in a matter of months, as most cases heal in days or weeks. Of course, in some cases, over-the-counter medication is enough to ease pain and discomfort associated with these injuries.

Discuss these and other treatment options with a doctor like those at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates.