Have a Compression Fracture? What to Do

November 12, 2012

Have a Compression Fracture? What to Do

A compression fracture occurs in the spine and generally refers to the event, in which numerous spine vertebrae get broken. Although a compression fracture may occur throughout the entire spine, it most commonly affects several vertebrae in the upper lumbar and lower thoracic region. This type of fracture is almost always considered to be a serious one since each vertebrae is close to the spinal cord, which puts it at serious risk if the vertebrae decide to shift.

What Causes It?

Most of the time, this type of fracture is caused by serious spinal trauma, most of all if a person has fallen from a great height. Since this would require a lot of force, though, it usually occurs along with various other injuries, such as spinal cord damage and extreme ligament damage. The amount of people experiencing compression fractures in their lifetime is estimated at 1 in 1000. Naturally, the damage levels will differ greatly from one person to the next, though.

What are the Symptoms?

Compression fracture symptoms might include extreme motion limitation, extremity sensation reduction, minor swelling, height reduction, and sharp lower back pain. Aside from these direct symptoms, pinching the spine itself might cause numbness or an odd kind of tingling throughout the entire body, as well. Who is at Risk? The people who experience extreme spinal trauma aside, other people at risk for this type of fracture would be those who already have osteoporosis. Since these people have already lost a lot of the density in their bones, it makes it much easier for their vertebrae tissue to break down and bring about a compression fracture. If their osteoporosis is already especially bad, less trauma would actually be needed for the fracture to happen in the first place, too.

What Should You Do?

If you already know that you have a compression fracture, then you have to stop moving right away in order to prevent any serious damage to your spine. Ideally, you should lie down on a firm yet padded surface and you’ll emergency personnel right away. A lot of the time, surgery isn’t needed to treat this type of fracture, though. All you will need to do is wear a cast or a brace, reduce your daily activity levels and take anti-inflammatory medications, so that the damage to your body can be repaired as soon as possible. However, if your doctor says that you will need to undergo surgery, then he might use steel rods to put your vertebrae back in their right positions and keep them there. As with any major type of bone trauma, a rehabilitation program would be highly recommended, as well.

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