A compression fracture is the structural collapse of a vertebrae, often due to loss of bony mass caused by osteoporosis. If the fracture is minor, it may cause little discomfort. However, a more extensive fracture may cause painful backaches. Over time, an accumulation of spinal compression fractures can allow the spine to bend forward, causing what is commonly referred to as “dowager’s” or “widow’s hump”. If a compression fracture is suspected, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Rest and heat can help relieve the pain caused by compression fractures. Symptoms most often subside gradually over a few months. Rarely do fractures resulting from osteoporosis require surgery. To reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the resulting bone loss certain preventative measures are recommended, including:
- Proper diet
- Calcium supplements, especially in the elderly and for women after menopause. Calcium supplements may be started earlier with physician supervision
- Other medications to help restore or maintain bone density, such as Fossamax or Mycalcin
- A bone density test may be recommended if you are at risk of or have already experienced problems associated with loss of bone density
- Vertabraeplasty with bone cement
For more information about compression fractures of the spine, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).