It’s exceptionally easy to take your back for granted. Until it hurts, you may not even give it much thought. However, the reason you’re able to stand, twist, and move about is because of your spine. As you age, many different things can happen to injure your spine. One very common back injury in older adults is vertebral compression fractures.

A vertebral compression fracture is when the strong bone that makes up part of your spine in your mid or lower back decides to essentially break down to some degree under the weight of your body. This can be due to a number of causes, because this won’t just happen without a specific reason.

Common Causes of Vertebral Compression Fractures

There are three common causes of vertebral compression fractures in the spine. They don’t just happen without a reason, and the most common cause is because the vertebral bone is already weak. Consider these three most common causes:

Osteoporosis

The number one cause of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis. This condition weakens the bone density throughout your body and makes your bones even more porous as your body leaches calcium from your bones. This is a common problem in seniors. Treatment for osteoporosis and being proactive to avoid it all together can help reduce the chances of a fracture.

Trauma

Trauma can affect anyone and cause many problems with the spine. From whiplash to vertebral compression fractures, trauma does not distinguish between age, gender, or race. Anyone can be injured and sustain substantial spine problems from a traumatic accident.

Cancer

While not as common as osteoporosis or trauma, cancer can lead to problems with vertebral compression fractures. Cancer in the spine or even cancer in the chest cavity that spreads can cause your vertebrae to weaken and leave them susceptible to fractures. Chemo and radiation can also do a number on your bones, leaving them weak and more porous.

Pain Management Options

When it comes to vertebral compression fractures, the biggest concern is pain and the worsening of the fracture. The most common treatment options include rest and pain management while the fractures heal. However, for some people this isn’t enough.

Other Treatments Available From Your Spine Doctor

If rest doesn’t resolve the problem, or if there is a more problematic underlying cause such as osteoporosis, then you may have to see a spine doctor to take further treatment measures. A back brace is one option that can limit motion to allow time for your vertebrae to heal. However, when these options don’t work, there are minimally invasive surgical procedures that a spinal specialist can try. One of these options is a vertebroplasty. This a procedure where a specialist inserts a needle into your vertebrae and injects a substance that will help to harden the bone and hold it together.

When you have back pain, there is a chance that you’ve experienced a vertebral compression fracture. Work with a spine doctor to find the best treatment options for you and provide you with the best chance of recovery. Contact us today at the Spine Institute of North America to schedule a consultation.