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A vertebral fracture is a break in one of the bones of the spine. This type of fracture usually occurs when the front part of the bone is squeezed or compressed. They are most common in the bones at the chest level.
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A vertebral compression fracture can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chances of vertebral compression fractures:
Most people do not have symptoms. If present, symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
You may be tested to look for signs of osteoporosis. This can be done with a bone mineral density test.
The goal of treatment is to allow the bone to heal. Options will depend on the severity of the fracture and your overall health but may include:
Your doctor may advise:
More severe fractures may require:
Your doctor may also start treatment for related factors. For example, you may be given a program to help slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
Building strong bones will help prevent more fractures. Steps for healthy bones include:
Lowering the risk of falls can also decrease your risk of fractures. Remove any obstacles in your home that could cause you to fall. These may include throw rugs or furniture.
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Osteoporosis Foundation
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Women's College Hospital—Women's Health Matters
Bone basics. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-basics. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin 129. Osteoporosis. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;120(3):718-734. Reaffirmed 2016.
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis. Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Thoracolumbar vertebral compression fracture. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114371/Thoracolumbar-vertebral-compression-fracture. Updated September 16, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Vertebral compression fractures. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Vertebral-Compression-Fractures. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=vertebro. Updated January 23, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.
12/19/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114371/Thoracolumbar-vertebral-compression-fracture: Buchbinder R, Golmohammadi K, Joshnston RV, et al. Percutaneous vertebroplasty for osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4):CD006349.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 12/19/2017