Vertebral Compression Fractures
A vertebral compression fracture is a fracture that can happen when the bones of the spine break due to trauma, but it can also be caused by osteoporosis, cancer and other conditions. When bones are brittle, everyday activities can trigger minor spinal compression fractures. These tiny fractures can permanently alter the strength and shape of the spine. About two-thirds of spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many patients and families think the back pain is merely a sign of aging and arthritis. Symptoms can include pain, weakness, tingling, incontinence and more.
Two groups of people are at highest risk for spinal compression fractures:
People with the bone-weakening disease, osteoporosis
People with cancer that has spread to their bones
One or more symptoms can indicate a spinal fracture:
Sudden, severe back pain (though many times the symptoms can come on gradually and worsen over time)
Worsening of pain when standing or walking
Some pain relief when lying down
Difficulty and pain when bending or twisting
Loss of height
Deformity of the spine – the curved, "hunchback" shape
Losing control (incontinence) of urine or stool or inability to urinate
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