What Is a Vertebral Fracture?

Learn about the symptoms and treatment options for vertebrae fractures.

When one or more bones in the spine break, it’s known as a vertebral fracture or spinal fracture. There are several types of vertebral fractures:

 

 

  • Compression fractures — Compression fractures are the most common and happen when a vertebra collapses, usually from a trauma, like a fall, or heavy lifting.
  • Burst fractures — These can happen after a traumatic injury, such as a fall from a great height or a car accident. Splinters of bone penetrate the soft tissues around the spine.
  • Fracture-dislocation — Fracture-dislocations occur when a vertebra breaks and becomes dislocated, potentially damaging the spinal cord.

When one or more bones in the spine break, it’s known as a vertebral fracture or spinal fracture. There are several types of vertebral fractures:

 

  • Compression fractures — Compression fractures are the most common and happen when a vertebra collapses, usually from a trauma, like a fall, or heavy lifting. 
  • Burst fractures — These can happen after a traumatic injury, such as a fall from a great height or a car accident. Splinters of bone penetrate the soft tissues around the spine. 
  • Fracture-dislocation — Fracture-dislocations occur when a vertebra breaks and becomes dislocated, potentially damaging the spinal cord.

What You May Be Feeling

Back Pain

Back Pain

Spasm

Spasms

Tenderness

Tenderness

Stiffness

Weakness

If you experience back pain that comes on suddenly, especially in the upper or mid-back, pain that gets worse when standing or walking, a decrease in pain when lying flat on your back, lose flexibility in the spine, or have a deformity like a hump in your back, your doctor may suspect a vertebral fracture.

Potential Treatment Options

Kyphoplasty

The surgeon is guided by x-ray to place a balloon catheter into the vertebrae. The balloon inflates to restore the collapse in a vertebra. The vertebrae is then stabilized with injected cement.

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