Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and over 30 million who are estimated to have low bone mass causing them to be at risk for development of Vertebral Compression Fracture. Well, many believe that osteoporosis is a ‘woman’s disease’ however it is estimated that out of the 10 million people affected by osteoporosis, 8 million are women while 2 million are men.
Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) are more common fractures affecting more than 750, 000 people each year ((Lietman, et al., Cases Journal, 2009). The prevalence of this condition increases steadily as people age. People who have had one osteoporotic VCF are at five times more likely to sustain a second VCF.
What are the Causes of Vertebral Compression Fracture?
Vertebral Compression Fracture occur once the bony block in the spine collapses. This can lead to severe pain, loss of height or deformity. The fractures are more common in the thoracic spine especially on the lower part of the spine. The most common cause of these fractures is osteoporosis, but trauma or tumors may also cause them.
In some people, VCF may be caused by simple daily activities such as vigorous sneezing, stepping out of the shower or lifting a light object. In moderate osteoporosis, the fracture may occur due to increased force of trauma, such as falling or lifting a heavy object to cause a VCF. In severe osteoporosis, VCF may occur as a result of car accident, hard fall or sports injury. For people younger than 50 years, metastatic tumors are considered as the main cause of VCF.
What are the Symptoms of Vertebral Compression Fracture?
The most common clinical symptoms include the following. The symptoms may show up alone or in combination of several symptoms.
- Sudden onset of pain due to trauma
- Reduced spinal mobility
- Increase of pain intensity when standing or walking
- Loss of weight
- Deformity of the spine
- Overall disability
What is the Diagnosis of Vertebral Compression Fracture?
First the doctor at the Dallas pain clinic must complete a medical history plus a physical examination. The Dallas pain management doctor will then be able to diagnose a VCF based on the history and examination, but X-rays together with other digital imaging is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Below are some of the tests that will work well in establishing an effective treatment plan.
- X-rays: An X-ray will show the outline of the joints around the vertebra. Problems such as degeneration of the disc, improper bone alignment, and spurs on the bones may be revealed through the X-ray images.
- CT scan: The CT scan is used to reveal the nature of VCF. Details such as stenosis or bony fragments can be discovered using the scan.
- MRI: This test will provide a powerful display of the spine and reveals all the areas that have been affected. The test can show the spinal cord, nerve roots, and surrounding areas, as well as degenerations, enlargements, and tumors.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Vertebral Compression Fracture
People with severe pain as a result of VCFs have been treated with options such as bed rest, bracing, medications, or invasive spinal surgery. VCF-related pain that is allowed to heal naturally may last longer than three months. But, the pain decreases in a matter of days or weeks.
The doctor may recommend bed rest for a short period of time with reduced activity. Also, the patient can use Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Back bracing provides external support to limit the motion of the fractured vertebrae.
Well, while immediate treatment is important to relieve pain and risks of fractures, prevention of these fractures is important. Dallas pain management doctor will prescribe the best treatment strategy for you.