The bones of the back are called the vertebrae. A vertebral fracture is a break in one of these bones. A vertebral compression fracture usually occurs when the front part of the bone is squeezed or compressed. They are most common in the thoracic vertebrae.
A vertebral compression fracture can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chances of vertebral compression fractures:
Most people do not have symptoms. If present, symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
You may be tested to determine if you have osteoporosis. This can be done with a bone mineral density test.
Your doctor may advise:
To prevent further bone loss, medications may include:
The following may also be advised:
Building strong bones will help prevent fractures. However, most bone strength is attained by women before they are 25 years old. That makes maintaining bone density and strength at older ages even more important.
To help reduce your chances of a vertebral compression fracture:
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Osteoporosis Foundation
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Women's College Hospital—Women's Health Matters
Bone basics. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-basics. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin 129. Osteoporosis. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;120(3):718-734. Reaffirmed 2016.
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis. Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Thoracolumbar vertebral compression fracture. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114371/Thoracolumbar-vertebral-compression-fracture. Updated September 16, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Vertebral compression fractures. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Vertebral-Compression-Fractures. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=vertebro. Updated January 23, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.
12/19/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114371/Thoracolumbar-vertebral-compression-fracture: Buchbinder R, Golmohammadi K, Joshnston RV, et al. Percutaneous vertebroplasty for osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4):CD006349.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.