Vertebral Compression Fractures - Diagnosis and Treatment

The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

The experienced spine surgeons of The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy in Baltimore, Maryland, provide evaluation and treatment for vertebral compression fractures.

About the Condition

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is a break in any of the round, cylindrical bones that make up the spinal column through which the spinal cord passes. Vertebral compression fractures most often occur in the thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) areas of the spine. These fractures may vary in severity and may be caused by the following:

  • Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that weakens the bones and can make them brittle and susceptible to fractures
  • Accidental and traumatic injury can cause fractures in the vertebrae
  • Disease such as cancer can weaken bones and lead to fractures
NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Symptoms of vertebral compression fractures (VCF) can vary in severity and may depend on the location. Common symptoms include:

  • Dull, sudden or severe back pain
  • Loss in height
  • Gradual change in posture
  • Problems standing or walking

To diagnose VCF, you doctor will start with a review of your medical history and a physical exam. The following tests are commonly used to diagnose VCF:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Treatment for vertebral compression fractures (VCF) depends on the location and severity of the fracture. Mild fractures may be treated with rest and medication. In some cases, patients may need to wear a back brace to support the healing process and aid in movement. More severe cases of VCF may require spine surgery, such as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, to repair the fractured bone with bone cement. Your doctor will help you determine what treatment options are the most effective for your condition.

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