These vertebral compression fractures can occur anywhere in the spine. Still, they often tend to happen most generally in the mid-back (thoracic spine) or lower back (lumbar spine).
Compression fractures radiographically are characterized as wedge fractures. The term “wedge fracture” means that the fracture occurs at the anterior (front) portion of the vertebra with little to no involvement of the posterior (back) of the vertebrae. A wedge compression fracture is typically a mechanically stable fracture pattern.
The most typical symptom is back pain, which worsens when standing or walking and lessens when lying down.
Vertebral compression fractures are very common due to prevalence of osteoporosis in the USA. Osteoporosis is more common in postmenopausal females but does also affect older males. However, an MRI is needed to make a diagnosis.
The concern is that these fractures are not always identified and simply thought of as general neck and back pain, or as a typical part of aging. Consequently, roughly two-thirds of the vertebral fractures that take place every year are not detected and consequently treated.
However, compression fractures can often be successfully treated with bracing or kyphoplasty (a minimally invasive surgery).
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