Compression Fractures

Most people associate breaking/fracturing a vertebra with paralysis, but more often than not that’s not often the case. Spinal fractures occur when the bones in your vertebrae break and collapse. This happens due to trauma or injury from falls, car accidents, or other issues. Of, if your vertebrae have degenerated due to osteoporosis, you can fracture a vertebra from something as innocent as coughing or sneezing.

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders we help people get through spinal fractures with conservative treatments or surgery.

How common are spinal fractures?

It may seem rare for a person to fracture a vertebra, but again that’s not to be confused with paralysis or a severing of the spinal cord. Fracturing a vertebra is far more common than you would think. Spinal fractures are twice as common as hip fractures and three times more common than breast cancer. Spinal fractures are most common in postmenopausal women over the age of 55. In fact, about half of all women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related spinal fracture.

What are the symptoms you’ve had a spinal fracture?

If you’ve fractured a vertebra, you will likely have a sudden onset of pain that lasts more than a few days. This is especially true if you have or are at risk for osteoporosis. The key is that the back pain continues. If you’ve strained a muscle, the pain should begin to decrease in a few days, but this won’t happen with a fracture.

What if I don’t treat my compression fracture?

Because compression fractures are typically stable, meaning the bones have not moved out of place but have simply collapsed and lost height in the front of the vertebra, patients often don’t treat them. This can allow the vertebra to heal in this caved in position. This will lead to increased forward curvature in the patient, or the classic forward lean you see in many older people. This places more pressure on the other vertebrae and more fractures will likely occur.

This will lead to various problems:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Loss of balance
  • Reduced levels of activity and loss of muscle mass
  • Chronic back pain and fatigue
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Depression


At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we treat patients with compression fractures due to osteoporosis every day. In non-emergency situations, we begin with conservative measures. These can usually be successful if the vertebrae have remained in position. If necessary, we may move to surgical procedures such as laminectomy to remove pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots caused by the collapsed vertebra.

There’s no reason to live with the pain and decreased quality of life caused by a compression fracture of one of your vertebrae. Call the experienced team at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, and let’s check out your back.

Posted in: Spinal Disorders

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