Nebraska Pain Institute
Pain Management Specialist
Back pain is a common problem, especially as you get older. But while you may push it off as a rite of passage, back pain may be a sign of a compression fracture, which is a hairline fracture in a vertebra that occurs due to the weakening of the bone. At the Nebraska Pain Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska, experienced Pain Management Specialist expert Dr. C. Weston Whitten offers treatment options for compression fractures, including the innovative surgical procedure called kyphoplasty. If you’re experiencing back pain, call the office or click to book an appointment online.
Compression Fracture Q & A
What is a compression fracture?
A compression fracture is a cracked or broken vertebrae in your backbone. It’s also sometimes referred to as a vertebral fracture, wedge fracture, or osteoporotic fracture.
It’s common in men and women with osteoporosis or people diagnosed with certain types of cancer such as lymphoma or myeloma. Due to the relationship to osteoporosis, compression fractures are more common in women and affect an estimated one-fourth of postmenopausal American women.
Compression fractures usually occur in the middle of the back at the junction of the thoracic and lumbar spines.
What causes a compression fracture?
A compression fracture is more likely when the bone in your vertebrae have weakened. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes the bones to weaken, and that’s why women and men with osteoporosis are more susceptible to compression fractures.
When your bones are weak, what seems like insignificant movements -- a sneeze, lifting an object, or a simple misstep -- may cause a fracture.
What are the symptoms of a compression fracture?
You may experience acute pain when the bone breaks, which then leads to chronic pain.
Other symptoms include:
- Formation of dowager’s hump deformity on the upper back
- Decrease in muscle strength and tone
- Limited spinal mobility
- Loss of height
The pain, deformity, and loss of strength may affect your activities of daily living and impair your self-esteem.
How is a compression fracture treated?
Your treatment options for a compression fracture include:
- Bed rest
- A back brace
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Vertebroplasty, a surgical procedure that cements the bone to increase stability
- Kyphoplasty, a surgical procedure that cements the bone and provides height to the spine
The bone will eventually heal, however interventional management can improve many aspects of the injury. It can help speed the healing process by stabilizing the fracture, which can lead to pain relief the same day as the procedure. Additionally, it can help improve the mechanics of the spine to help realign the joints in your back as well as possibly improve the mechanics of breathing. Dr. Whitten may offer a kyphoplasty in order to accomplish these goals.
What is kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is an advanced surgical procedure used to treat a compression fracture. Like a vertebroplasty, it utilizes cement to stabilize the fracture, but inflates a balloon on both sides of the fracture to create more space, so the cement filling restores height to your spine and relieves pain.
As a leading pain specialist trained at the best facility in the country, Dr. Whitten offers kyphoplasty as a treatment option for compression fractures to his patients. The treatment can significantly reduce your pain within a few days after the procedure.
If you’re experiencing upper back pain that came on suddenly and have concerns it might be a fracture, come in for a consult with Dr. Whitten. Call the office or book an appointment using the online booking agent.
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