A compression fracture refers to a wedging or full compression of part of the vertebrae, or spinal column, in the body.
Are compression fractures something you should worry about?
“An estimated 1.5 million vertebral compression fractures happen every year in the U.S. They are common in elderly populations, and 25% of postmenopausal women are affected by a compression fracture during their lifetime.”
The density and strength of our bones begin to naturally diminish as we age. This is due to decreasing levels of hormone secretion and proper exercise.
“The prevalence of this condition increases with age, reaching 40% by age 80. Three population studies have shown the annual incidence of vertebral compression fractures is 10.7 per 1000 women and 5.7 per 1000 men. Men older than age 65 years are also at increased risk of compression fractures.”
Learn more about the prevalence of compression fractures here:
What causes a compression fracture?
In most older patients, compression fractures happen because of thinning or weakening in the bone called osteopenia or osteoporosis in its later stages. Osteoporosis combined with a sudden fall or forceful accident can cause the vertebral body to compress.
What does a compression fracture feel like?
Most compression fractures don’t result in an immediate threat to the spinal cord but may leave patients with incredible amounts of discomfort and pain. Patients lose mobility, and in the worst cases, the spinal nerve exiting out of the spinal canal can be affected, causing a pressure on the spinal cord and nerves called stenosis. The patient will oftentimes feel pain radiating to other areas of the body, and conditions like sciatica can feel much worse.
Even after proper healing, a patient with a compression fracture will be most likely more bent over. This leads to further degeneration and the likelihood of more compression fractures in the future.
Learn more about compression fractures in older adults here: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0101/p111.html?an=msn_s&am=broad&q=compression+fracture+of+t7&askid=e1221715-8b7f-4e5b-b3fb-4da977520fa1-0-ab_msb
How can compression fractures be prevented?
The best way to keep bones strong is regular exercise. The more stress we put on our bodies, the more our bodies respond by reinforcing different tissues, like muscle, tendons, ligaments, and especially bone. Eating healthy food to give our body the nutrients it needs to rebuild is also essential to preventing compression fractures.
How should compression fractures be treated?
The first thing to do after experiencing a compression fracture is to properly diagnose it with imaging.
Second, make a plan to emerge from the pain, and combine it with proper rehab. Proper rehab should include getting proper exercise and eating the proper foods to prevent another compression fracture from happening. Finding treatments to help with the pain is cumbersome, and it can be difficult to choose the right path, especially when some of those paths are permanent.
There are many different paths of ‘typical’ treatments, including kyphoplasty, percutaneous vertebroplasty, and physical therapy for rehab. Though, none of these options will completely restore a compression fracture.
At Midwest Pain Solutions, we provide an alternative path to pain relief. However, it’s important to know there will never be a “cure” to uncompressing a compression fracture no matter where you go.
When you come to Midwest Pain Solutions, our goal is to correctly identify a compression fracture and then put into place a treatment plan on how to best heal and rehabilitate the body. Increasing mobility and mobilizing the supporting joints will help with flexibility and compensation.
We specialize in high-intensity therapeutic laser therapy. Therapeutic laser therapy is aimed at stimulating healing changes within damaged tissues. Use of the laser is an alternative to “band-aid” methods like pain medication and injections, and if there is still cartilage, the technology can save some joints from surgery.
Learn more about Midwest Pain Solutions’ laser therapy here: https://midwestpainsolutions.com/blog/high-intensity-laser-therapy-how-it-works/. And contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation to learn more about how we can help you live a better, pain-free life.