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Compression Fractures

Your spine is composed of vertebral bones and discs. Vertebral bones are susceptible to fractures just like other bones in your body. When there is a fracture in a vertebral body and loss of vertebral height, it is called a compression fracture.

When cancer spreads to the spine, it can also cause compression fractures. Breast, lung, prostate, and multiple myeloma are common cancers that spread to bone.   

Symptoms

Vertebral compression fractures are often asymptomatic without an inciting cause.  A portion of patients with vertebral compression fractures continue to have pain despite conservative therapy. Pain is usually located in the middle of the spine. It is often worse with standing or walking and improved while lying down flat on your back. Severe fractures may cause loss of height and exaggerated curvature of the spine. 

Possible Causes

The most common cause of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis. Other causes include multiple myeloma, metastatic tumor and hemangiomas.  

Treatment

Your JLR Center for Pain Medicine physician will work with you to determine the best treatment plan. Appropriate treatment is always based on an accurate diagnosis. Our initial evaluation will include a comprehensive review of your history and a detailed examination, and review or acquisition of appropriate imaging.

Most fractures can be managed conservatively with a back brace, bed rest, NSAIDs, and pain medications. Depending on the structure of the fracture, spread of cancer, and patient’s co-morbidities, a kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, radiation therapy or spine surgery may be beneficial.