How Painful Is A Compression Fracture?

How Painful Is A Compression Fracture?

Most patients think that back pain is a sign of aging that comes and goes. However, there are certain conditions like spinal compression fractures that also manifest as normal back pain. Pain is a complex condition that is not only caused by physical stress or injury but also by psychological and emotional factors

In this post, discover the differences between normal back pain and a compression fracture. We will also discuss kyphoplasty and how it can help treat vertebral compression fractures.

What is a compression fracture?

A compression fracture or vertebral compression fracture (VCF) happens when the vertebra in the spine collapses causing the loss of its height and chronic pain. The spinal bone can be fractured and deformed due to trauma or weakened bone density due to certain health issues like osteoporosis and certain types of cancers. 

As we age, we become more at risk of compression fractures due to the decrease in bone mass that comes with aging. Low bone density causes our spinal vertebra to become more fragile and crack as it absorbs compression when we move, stand, or walk. A wedge fracture is one of the types of compression fracture that affects the front of the vertebra and turns it into a wedge shape. 

wedge fracture

The level of pain of a compression fracture

A compression fracture may start without causing pain. As the fracture gradually spreads, the sudden and sharp pain also gets worse. Some patients in their 30s or 40s may not immediately recognize the pain as a compression fracture and often treat it as a typical muscle strain. 

As the fracture expands throughout the vertebra, noticeable pain patterns will start to emerge. Patients may feel a sharp or worsening pain after doing certain activities that involve bending or twisting their backs. 

Symptoms of compression fractures vs. normal back pain

Since compression fractures can happen without showing initial symptoms, it can be confusing for patients to recognize it when their back pain starts. The pain that starts to have a pattern or becomes chronic draws the line between normal back pain and spinal compression fracture. Other distinct symptoms of a compression fracture include:

Physical changes and limited mobility

  • Limited range to bend or twist your body
  • Loss of height
  • An unusual curve in your spine or kyphosis

Pain patterns 

  • Worsening pain when you stand or walk 
  • Pain when you lift things off the floor 
  • Pain when you bend forward to pick something on the floor
  • Pain when you carry heavy things on your arms
  • A misstep or slipping on a rug

Causes 

Our risk of having compression fractures increases with age. Patients are also at a higher risk of this condition if they experience any of the following:

  • Osteoporosis: A medical condition that causes brittle bones and bone loss. Patients with this condition have a five times higher risk for one or more compression fractures. 
  • Cancers around the spine: Any cancer that has spread around the spine or started to spread to the bones can cause the vertebral body to lose bone density and become weaker.
  • Sports injury or car accident: Trauma on your spine can trigger a fracture of your spinal cord and other injuries such as slipped discs.

The impact of a compression fracture on your lifestyle

The pain caused by spine injuries like compression fractures will limit the patient’s mobility and make them unfit to perform certain tasks. The pain may also become chronic and unbearable, leading to sleep deprivation and mood changes. 

Compression fractures can heal with conventional approaches like pain medications,  physical therapy, rest, and back braces. The healing period takes about 3 months, with significant pain relief within weeks. However, some patients may not respond well to conventional therapies and may try other treatment options like kyphoplasty. 

How kyphoplasty can help

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment for compression fractures that uses bone cement to restore the height of the vertebra and alleviate pain. It involves a small incision in your back where a thin catheter is inserted into the empty space inside the vertebra.

A balloon will be placed at the tip of the catheter and will be inflated to restore the shape of the vertebra. The balloon will be removed, and the liquid bone cement will fill the cavity inside the fractured vertebra. The liquid bone cement will harden after 10 minutes.

You may feel a significant decrease in your back pain after the procedure than before you came in. Since the procedure is minimally invasive, you may also be able to walk or move after an hour or two. Your doctor may also allow you to go home within the same day of the procedure. 

Let Hadi Medical Group help you break free from the pain of a compression fracture

Learn more about the advanced pain management treatments that can help you get your life back from debilitating pain. Hadi Medical Group provides kyphoplasty in Plainview, NY. Schedule an appointment today, and start living free from chronic pain. 

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