A compression fracture occurs when the vertebrae in the spine are pushed together and collapse. These fractures rarely occur in the upper back, but they can technically occur anywhere in the spine. Since they can be confused for general back pain or symptoms of a normal part of aging, many compression fractures go untreated or misdiagnosed.
While they are most common in women, compression fractures are typically found among people over the age of 50. Studies have shown that 25% of postmenopausal women will experience one in their lifetime.
Despite their name, since compression fractures occur gradually, they often only cause mild back pain, making them hard to diagnose early. They are often caused by:
The long-term effects of compression fractures can diminish the quality of life, resulting in:
In severe cases, daily functions like standing, walking, breathing, and turning your head can become a challenge. The long-term effects of compression fractures can seep into everyday life, making it harder to live unassisted or to keep doing the activities you love.
The good news is that most of the long-term effects of spinal compression fractures can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. Compression fractures can heal on their own within two to three months. There are nonsurgical treatments that include pain medication, the use of ice or heat, wearing a back brace, doing lumbar compression fracture exercises, trying to alleviate the pain through rest, and following injury prevention strategies.
If symptoms continue to worsen, or surgery is suggested to help with spinal instability, two common surgical options are offered.
Spinal compression fractures can have many long-term effects that will interfere with your quality of life. If you are experiencing back pain, consider talking with an expert. The specialists at Neurosurgical Associates of Central New Jersey have broad expertise with spinal compression fractures. To schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact us today.