Compression Fractures of the Spine are a collapse of the vertebral bone that can affect one or more vertebra. It can result in a severe deformity of the spinal column. Compression fractures of the spine may affect any of the vertebrae, but most commonly occur in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar regions.
Compression fracture describes a type of fracture in which a spinal vertebra caves in on itself due to compression—or pressure—on the bone. There are several types of compression fractures, each with different risks and treatment options.
The most common cause of a spinal compression fracture is osteoporosis. In vertebrae weakened by osteoporosis, a slight increase in stress, or even just the normal amount of pressure placed on them, can cause them to break.
Compression fractures occur most often in the lower portion of the thoracic (middle) spine or in the upper portion of the lumbar (lower) spine, where stressed tend to be highest on the vertebrae.
There are three types of compression fractures: wedge, crush, and burst.
Symptoms of compression fracture typically include pain and a forward curving of the spine that results in a hunched appearance and the loss of height. Symptoms may also include a loss of range of motion and reduction of sensation in the extremities.
Compression fractures can be caused by traumatic injury, such as a hard fall. But many cases of compression fracture develop as a result of osteoporosis. A person with osteoporosis may develop compression fractures during routine daily activities, and may not realize the extent of their injuries until they experience severe deformity of the spine.