Compression fracture

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A compression fracture is a common form of vertebral fracture. The injury occurs once the vertebral structure of the spine has been crushed or compressed to a reduced height.

The injury is likely to occur among the following:

  • Individuals involved in traumatic events. Once the weight placed on the vertebrae is more than what it can hold, it is likely to give away. This is typically seen after sustaining a fall.
  • Individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis or deterioration of the bone. Once the bone becomes thin, it could not carry a load.
  • Those who have tumors that spread to the bone or tumors such as multiple myeloma that forms in the spine.

What are the indications?

Back pain is the usual sign of a compression fracture. The individual might experience abrupt, intense back pain or might be gradual in onset.

In severe traumatic injuries, the root cause of the compression fracture is clear. In some instances, in which the bone is deteriorated by osteoporosis or another ailment, the root of the fracture might be less evident.

Compression fracture
Back pain is the usual sign of a compression fracture.

If osteoporosis is the cause, there are no symptoms initially. An individual diagnosed with osteoporosis who have several compression fractures might notice the curvature of the spine. The reason for this is that the vertebrae is crushed in front and usually normal in the back part.

In most cases, there is loss in the overall height due to the reduced size of the spinal column.

Management of a compression fracture

The objective of treatment in most cases is to control the discomfort and ensure that the individual is moving. A thorough assessment must be done to ensure that the nerve function is normal. If there is possibility of nerve or spinal cord symptoms, additional testing is needed. In most instances, the nerve function is not disrupted, and the aim is on pain control.

Once the pain is controlled, mobilization usually with the help of physical therapy can help restore function and daily activities.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a compression fracture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly manage the injury, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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