Spine fractures can be painful and make daily life hard. When discussing your back pain with your primary care physician, an X-ray is often the first imaging order for diagnoses for spine fractures. Because a MRI can determine the age of fractures, it is often the most effective scan in determining treatment options for treating spine fractures. For patients who cannot undergo an MRI, a nuclear medicine bone scan may be sufficient.
vertebral compression fractures. Fractures are typically found in elderly patients and more commonly in women than men. Osteoporosis is more common in women. Fractures can also be associated with cancers of the spine or cancers that have spread to the spine.
Other causes of fractures can be from a fall or other trauma. If the patient has severe osteoporosis, fractures can occur from simple movements such as bending, twisting, or picking something up.
Pain is typically located in the back and will worsen with transitions such as going from lying to sitting, sitting to standing and vice versus. The pain often wraps around the rib cage. Another way to explore spine pain is pushing on the area or gently tapping is typically very painful.
Treatment for the vertebral fracture will typically include non-surgical care, such as rest, pain medication, use of heat or ice for local pain, and slow return to mobility. Surgery may also be advisable. The two most common types of minimally invasive treatments for this type of fracture are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
Vertebroplasty: This minimally invasive treatment is designed to help reduce or eliminate pain caused by a fractured vertebra and stabilize the bone. Low viscosity cement is injected directly into the collapsed vertebral body under high pressure, with the goal of stabilizing the fracture and relieving the associated back pain.
Kyphoplasty: Similar to vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure designed to reduce or stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture, to stabilize the bone, and to restore some or all of the lost vertebral body height due to the compression fracture.
Most vertebral compression fractures can be treated without surgery. However, vertebroplasty may be considered if the following are true:
✓ Significant pain has persisted at least 2 weeks.
✓ If pain increases when weight is placed on the spine from above, such as when getting out of bed or carrying a heavy item.
✓ If the fracture is leading to inflammation of the adjacent nerve roots causing tingling or pain shooting down the leg or to other parts of the body
✓ Fracture has not already healed