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Compression Fracture

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Compression fracture quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your compression fracture.

Compression fracture quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your compression fracture.

Take compression fracture quiz

What is a compression fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture occurs when a backbone collapses. This usually occurs because it is weakened by osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become thin, weak, and easily fractured. Cracks can appear in the bones of the spine (vertebrae). This can lead to back pain, changes in the shape of the back (such as hunching or stooping), and loss of height.

Often, there is no obvious injury that causes the compression fracture.

Symptoms

Pain from a vertebral compression fracture varies depending on where and how extreme the fracture is. It can be a dull or sharp pain that starts slowly, usually in the lower back, and may spread to the stomach.

Vertebral compression fractures are often found not because you have pain, but because you become shorter, often because of aging or osteoporosis.

Treatment

A spinal fracture can be evaluated with special X-rays called bone density tests. Once diagnosed, it may be treated with pain and bone medication, heat or ice therapy, or a back brace. In many cases, medical cement injection procedures are used to fix fractures.

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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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