Vertebral compression fractures are a common complication of osteoporosis, affecting about 750,000 people every year. To get relief from the severe pain and complications associated with vertebral compression fractures, visit Kenneth Varley, MD, at Southern Pain Specialists. An expert in osteoporosis and pain management, Dr. Varley helps patients of all ages in Birmingham, Alabama, to reduce their pain and improve their quality of life. Schedule a visit today by calling or booking an appointment online.
A vertebral compression fracture is a type of fracture that occurs when the inner layers of a bone in your spine break down and collapse. This results in the loss of height in the vertebrae and may also compress nerves or soft tissues in the surrounding area. Compression fractures require treatment to prevent further damage to the bone and soft tissues in the area.
Vertebral compression fractures typically cause severe back pain when they occur. Other symptoms include:
It’s possible to have more than one compression fracture at a time, especially in cases of trauma or severe osteoporosis. Not all compression fractures are painful and other conditions can mimic fracture pain. Dr. Varley rules out other causes of back pain and confirms the vertebra to be treated with diagnostic nerve blocks before proceeding with kyphoplasty Multiple compression fractures can cause an obvious change to your posture called kyphosis in addition to other symptoms.
The most common cause of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis. Compression fractures are most likely to occur in the thoracic spine — or middle back — especially the lower half of the thoracic spine where your rib cage ends, although they can occur anywhere in your spine.
Other potential causes are trauma or metastatic cancer. Types of trauma that can cause compression fractures are car accidents, sports injuries, and falls. If you’ve experienced any trauma and have back pain, it’s best to be evaluated by Dr. Kenneth Varley to determine if you have a vertebral compression fracture.
Dr. Varley performs a procedure called kyphoplasty to repair vertebral compression fractures. During this procedure, he makes two small incisions in your skin and uses a drill to make space on the sides of the vertebrae to insert two deflated surgical balloons. The balloons are filled with a contrast medium until they expand to the desired size, which restores height to the vertebrae. Dr. Varley then injects surgical cement into the vertebrae to fill the space that has been compressed. The cement dries and restores strength and height to your spine and protects the nerves and soft tissues in the area from further damage.
If you suspect that you have a vertebral compression fracture, call the Southern Pain Specialists office or set up an appointment online to get treatment.