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Vertebral Compression Fractures – Causes & Symptoms

Typically a compression fracture happens when a part of an individual bone in the spine called a vertebra becomes highly compressed usually due to some accident or trauma. If the compression is severe enough, the vertebra itself may fracture. These types of fractures are most common in the lumbar vertebrae as they are typically the vertebrae which support the most pressure. In some cases, a vertebral compression fracture can be caused by something other than trauma such as osteoporosis. A vertebral compression fracture can be very painful and result in numbness or a tingling sensation.

Common Causes


One of the most common causes of a vertebral compression fracture is physical trauma. A variety of accidents have been known to cause compression fractures, especially in the lumbar vertebrae of the spine. Accidents like falling from a great height and landing on your feet can cause your lower back to sustain a tremendous amount of force which your lumbar vertebrae simply cannot handle. Car accidents have also been known to cause compression fractures depending on the direction and force of the impact.


Osteoporosis is another common cause of compression fractures as well as joint pain. Osteoporosis is a disease which decreases bone density and therefore makes bones much more fragile. This means that a severely weakened vertebra due to osteoporosis may fracture under an amount of force that would otherwise be completely tolerable.


Vertebral compression fractures can lead to severe chronic back pain. The pain tends to originate in the lower back (assuming it was a lumbar vertebra which sustained the fracture) and can sometimes radiate to the hip, thigh, or abdomen. Sometimes a compression fracture also leads to the compression of nerves surrounding the fracture. In these cases, you may experience a tingling or numbness in addition to chronic pain. If the fracture is also pushing on your spinal chord, then you may experience the loss of control of your urination (called incontinence).

If your symptoms are severe, you should visit an emergency room right away. A vertebral compression fracture is a very serious condition. You may end up needing lumbar surgery. In some cases, pain symptoms may persist even after a surgery is completed. If you have had back surgery and are still suffering from chronic pain, call Garden State Pain Control today to speak with a board-certified New Jersey pain physician.

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