Florida Spine & Pain Specialists
Interventional Pain Specialists & Sports Medicine Specialists located in Riverview, FL
About 750,000 people in the United States have vertebral compression fractures, and once you have experienced one, you are five times more likely to have another. If you’re experiencing back pain or have been diagnosed with a vertebral compression fracture, book an appointment online or by phone with Dr. Nomen Azeem at Florida Spine & Pain Specialists in Riverview and Wesley Chapel, Florida, to explore your treatment options.
Vertebral Compression Fractures Q & A
How do vertebral compression fractures occur?
The main cause of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) is osteoporosis. With age, everyone’s bones become thinner and weaker, but in people with osteoporosis, the process is accelerated.
The vertebrae of your spine are like blocks stacked on top of one another, with small discs between them. As the bones of your spine become weaker, they also get narrower and flatter — and at a much greater risk of fracture.
When a vertebra is weakened, even a common action such as reaching or sneezing can cause it to crack. VCFs usually occur near your waistline, at your mid back, or in your lower back.
In addition to age and osteoporosis, trauma to the spine and metastatic diseases can also cause vertebral compression fractures.
How are vertebral compression fractures diagnosed?
Dr. Azeem will first perform a physical exam and discuss your medical history with you. If he suspects a VCF, he will order an X-ray. Most of the time an X-ray is enough to confirm a fracture. If the X-ray is inconclusive, however, Dr. Azeem may request a CT scan for a more detailed cross-section image of your spine.
Once Dr. Azeem has determined you have sustained a vertebral compression fracture, he may order other tests to determine the most appropriate treatment program.
What treatments are available for vertebral compression fractures?
At Florida Spine & Pain Specialists, treatments for a VCF may include medications, bracing, or surgical interventions.
Common medications include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Narcotics and muscle relaxants may be prescribed temporarily, and antidepressants may be helpful. If you have osteoporosis, drugs to strengthen your bones could help prevent future problems.
Bracing provides support to your spine and may also help with pain relief; however, braces can also lead to muscle loss. You should only use a brace under Dr. Azeem’s supervision.
Surgery is usually a last resort and is reserved for the most serious cases. Surgical interventions include:
- Vertebroplasty: an injection of bone cement into the fractured vertebra
- Kyphoplasty: similar to a vertebroplasty, but Dr. Azeem uses a small balloon to create space for the bone cement
- Spinal fusion: two or more vertebrae are connected, stopping movement between them and relieving pain
If you have questions about vertebral compression fractures, call or schedule a consultation online with Dr. Azeem.
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