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4 Telltale Signs of a Vertebrae Fracture

4 Telltale Signs of a Vertebrae Fracture

Vertebrae fractures can happen as the result of a serious accident, but they can also be the result of a minor fall or even the simple task of lifting a bag of groceries. If you have an underlying condition, such as osteoporosis, you’re more at risk for these fractures. Over 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, with over 1.5 million fragility fractures reported each year.

As an orthopedic spine surgeon here at Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. John Regan knows firsthand that vertebrae fractures, regardless of the events that led up to the fracture, are notorious for causing back pain. We help patients throughout Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, California understand whether their back pain is caused by a fracture or another condition. 

Read on and uncover four telltale signs that you’re dealing with a vertebrae fracture.

How to spot the telltale signs of a vertebrae fracture

While the only definitive way to confirm a vertebrae fracture is with an x-ray, you might suspect you’re dealing with a fracture if you spot these four signs:

1. Back pain

There are many causes of back pain, but not all back pain presents the same way. Some pain is dull and achy, while other types of pain can sting or burn. In the case of a vertebrae fracture, you may notice two things:

Take note of what activities increase or decrease your pain. Is your pain worse when walking? Lying on your back or side? What activities or positions alleviate pain? All of this information is invaluable when it comes to pinpointing the root cause of your back pain.

2. Limited spinal mobility

In addition to pain, vertebrae fractures also contribute to reduced spinal mobility. This means you may struggle to bend or turn your spine. 

If osteoporosis contributed to your vertebrae fracture, your fracture may have occurred suddenly as you lifted a bag of groceries or twisted your spine. After the fracture, these movements may become difficult, if not impossible, to perform.

3. Height loss

Although pain is common, there are times when pain isn’t the number one sign of a vertebrae fracture. Compression fractures 一which are more common in the thoracic (middle) spine 一can contribute to height loss when the bony part of the vertebra collapses. 

When fractured, each vertebra can lose 15-20% of its height. If you have multiple compression fractures, you’re looking at a pretty substantial decrease in your height.

4. Kyphosis 

In addition to height loss, vertebrae fractures (and the resulting compression) can contribute to a spinal deformity called thoracic kyphosis.

The symptoms of kyphosis can include:

Severe kyphosis can make it challenging to move from a seated to a standing position, increase tingling in your legs and feet, and exacerbate acid reflux disease.

When to seek treatment for vertebrae fractures

Without medical treatment, vertebral fractures can continue to get worse. If you suspect that a fracture is the source of your pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The treatment for vertebral fractures depends on the cause of the fracture, the overall health of your spine, and the severity of your injuries.

Potential treatments for vertebrae fracture include immobilization and bracing. In some cases, surgical interventions may provide the relief you need. Surgical procedures that treat fractures include vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, and stabilization with screws or plates. 

Regardless of which treatment is right for you, Dr. Regan reviews any necessary preparation steps to prepare you for surgery. To learn more about the potential treatment options for vertebrae fractures, book an appointment with Dr. Regan here at Spine Group Beverly Hills. You can also reach our Santa Monica, California office at 424-238-3281.

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