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Will My Compression Fracture Heal on Its Own?

Suffering from debilitating back pain is often seen as a normal, expected and unavoidable part of the aging process. While some joint and back pain is an inevitable part of getting older, living with excruciating back pain from a compression fracture does not have to be. If you are experiencing pain stemming from your middle or lower spine, then you may have a vertebral compression fracture. Fortunately, compression fractures can be corrected using advanced procedures and treatment methods performed by qualified interventional radiologists.

At IVC, we offer treatments that allow you to focus on enjoying your life with no caveats. If you struggle with overwhelming pain from a compression fracture, our interventional radiologists can help you diagnosis the issue and offer treatments that will improve your overall quality of life. With the help of lifestyle adjustments, medication or kyphoplasty, we can heal your compression fracture and eliminate your back pain.

What Is a Compression Fracture?

A compression fracture forms in the spine when the vertebrae suffer any sort of trauma that causes them to crack under an overload of pressure. Vertebral compression fractures can develop due to sudden trauma from a fall or injury, but they most commonly occur as a result of decreased bone density or bone strength. Weakened bones make the vertebrae more susceptible to a compression fracture from even minor occurrences, such as sneezing aggressively, missing a stair and stepping down sharply, or lifting a heavy object.

You may be at a higher risk of a compression fracture if you are a man over the age of 60, a postmenopausal woman or if you have osteoporosis. Cancer patients may also experience a compression fracture if their cancer metastasizes to the spine and weakens the vertebrae. In rare cases, a compression fracture can be a warning sign of undetected cancer if it happens suddenly and without explanation.

Compression fractures commonly form in the thoracic spine or the lumbar spine, located in the middle or lower part of your back. While they typically occur individually, patients who suffer one compression fracture have a greatly increased chance of suffering another. Multiple untreated compression fractures can eventually lead to severe symptoms and reduced mobility.

Diagnosing a Compression Fracture

A vertebral compression fracture can be evident through a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain when standing or walking
  • Decreased pain when lying down
  • A sudden onset of back pain
  • Tenderness in certain areas of the spine
  • Loss of height in severe cases

Any activity that places pressure on the spine, such as standing upright or lifting a heavy object incorrectly, can aggravate the fractured vertebra and induce severe pain. If you do have a compression fracture, you may still be able to go about your daily life with only slightly limited mobility. However, diagnosing and treating any type of back pain at its onset is imperative for successful treatment and a healthy recovery.

The existence of a compression fracture can be detected through symptoms and a physical exam performed by a qualified medical professional. Additional tests—including an MRI, CT scan or x-ray—may then be used to confirm the diagnosis and pinpoint the issue.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, make sure to be especially vigilant about any new back pain. Lowered bone density puts you at an increased risk of spinal issues and various types of fractures. An osteoporosis fracture can occur with minimal trauma or stress to the spine, so even slipping or casually bending over to pick something up can be enough to cause damage.

Treatments for a Compression Fracture

Learning that you have a compression fracture is a crucial first step toward correcting the issue and allows you to begin treatment straight away. With the proper precautionary measures and plenty of rest, a compression fracture can typically heal in about three months. During those three months, however, you will need plenty of bed rest, pain medication, calcium supplements, routine icing and heating to mitigate pain. Physical therapy is also commonly used to build up the strength of the surrounding muscles to compensate for weakened bones.

For patients who cannot afford to spend three months resting, or for those who want to avoid pain medication and its inherent risks, kyphoplasty can be used to heal the compression fracture. Kyphoplasty is an advanced procedure that corrects the fracture by expanding the bone back to its normal position using a balloon catheter. The balloon catheter is inserted into the vertebra and then inflated, moving the bone back to its original height and creating space within it. Bone cement is injected after the balloon is removed to fill in the cavity and ensure the vertebra heals back to full strength.

Leaving a compression fracture untreated can not only greatly affect your day-to-day life, but it can also lead to serious complications like kyphosis. Kyphosis is a condition that develops as the result of multiple untreated fractures, eventually creating a rounded back. This condition, typically found in older patients, can compress the vital organs and cause serious complications. While many men and women believe they simply have to live with back pain, IVC is here to help you overcome your pain and correct compression fractures using the latest procedures. If you are suffering from back pain or have recently been diagnosed with a compression fracture, schedule a consultation at IVC to begin your recovery as soon as possible.

Overcoming Back Pain at IVC

Tens of millions of Americans have low bone mass, putting them at an increased risk of compression fractures. The expert interventional radiologists at IVC are here to help you overcome your back pain by healing compression fractures. You should not have to live with debilitating pain and discomfort that keep you from enjoying your life. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule a consultation and begin your journey toward a pain-free and happier life.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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