A spinal compression fracture can be a painful problem that you do not realize you have. What you will know, at some point, is that you are uncomfortable far more often than not. You may even notice that you seem to be “growing” a hump on the upper part of your spine, and think that it is related to poor posture. In reality, this could be one of several indicators of spinal fracture.
This type of fracture is characterized by decreased height in a vertebrae, the individual bones that make up the spinal column. Sometimes, more than one of these bones will have hairline fractures, causing them to shorten.
Spinal Compression Fractures Statistics
- Approximately 700,000 American adults are diagnosed with spinal compression fractures each year.
- Many of these cases are associated with osteoporosis, a condition that affects bone density and strength.
- Because a large percentage of post-menopausal women have osteoporosis, experts estimate that 25% of women in this category have at least one compression fracture in their spine.
- Approximately 25% of men aged 50 or older also experience bone fracture as a result of osteoporosis.
- Because the cause of back pain is often not investigated, as much as two-thirds of spinal compression fractures suffered each year are not addressed with appropriate treatment.
Do you have a Spinal Compression Fracture?
There are a few signs that may indicate the need for further exploration into your spinal health. Some of the common symptoms of spinal compression fracture include:
- Back pain occurs suddenly and without a noted injury to account for it.
- Pain worsens when standing or walking.
- Pain decreases when lying down.
- Height is lost.
- Spinal joint mobility is decreased.
- Physical deformity (a hump) is noticed.
Diagnosing Spinal Compression Fracture
One of the issues with this condition is that the presence of other factors may lead to misdiagnosis. For instance, an older individual with chronic mid- to upper-back pain may be diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and not fully assessed for fractures in the spine. Compression fractures may be visualized with CAT scan, MRI, or nuclear bone scan testing.
-Ken Hsu, M.D.