Your spine has various functions, including supporting your weight and protecting the nerves that pass through it to the other parts of your body. Unfortunately, a fracture can weaken the vertebral body, significantly affecting your overall health. According to Dr. Adam Camp, compression fractures can collapse your vertebral body, causing bone spurs to press on your nerves and specific parts of your spinal cord. As a result, they minimize the amount of oxygen, nutrients, and blood your spine is supposed to receive. Though osteoporosis is a common cause of compression fractures, other causes include spinal injuries and tumors. Most compression fractures do not have signs, especially in their initial stages. However, symptoms like worsening back pain and limited spinal movement might eventually showcase when the condition worsens.
What are vertebral compression fractures?
Most vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) happen when your vertebral body fails to withstand pressure, resulting in deformity and severe pain. Additionally, a significant percentage of the fractures primarily occur in the thoracic spine, mainly on the lower parts. Simple everyday activities like lifting life loads or sneezing may also cause VCF, most commonly in individuals with severe osteoporosis. However, it might take trauma or an increased force such as lifting heavy objects to cause a fracture in people with moderate osteoporosis. Though VCFs is not a preserve for a particular age, they are most common in elderly individuals. However, you are five times at risk of having VCF fractures if you have experienced an osteoporotic VCF in the past.
Besides people with osteoporosis, VCFs can also happen in healthy individuals. For instance, you might sustain a VCF fracture because of severe trauma like a hard fall or accident. The most common VCF signs your healthcare provider will advise you to watch for include:
- Sudden unexplained back pain
- Back pain that increases when you stand or walk but resolves when you lie on your back
- Reduced spinal mobility
- Disability or deformity that happens gradually
- Gradual loss of height
- Difficulty controlling your bowels
- Numbness or tingling feeling on your muscles that might affect your mobility
What are the complications you might have with compression fractures?
- Fractured bones that might fail to heal permanently after healing
- Blood clots, especially in the legs because of reduced mobility
- Kyphosis (humpback) is likely to result in painful symptoms and issues with your organs near the chest area
- Chronic pain
- Spinal cord and nerve issues
Osteoporosis prevention or treatment (if you have the condition) is your only way of preventing compression fractures. You might discuss with your healthcare provider to know your risk of developing osteoporosis and ask him what to do about your situation.
When should you seek professional help with compression fractures?
Though compression fractures take a shorter period to heal with medication, it is crucial to seek professional help before they significantly impact your overall wellbeing. Call your healthcare professional when you find it challenging to control your bowels, or your symptoms become debilitating over time.
Compression fractures can make life unbearable. Besides the painful symptoms, the pressure of the bone fragments on your spinal nerves can affect your mobility. Do not let osteoporosis damage your vertebral body when you can seek medical assistance to prevent the compression fractures from interfering with your everyday life.