Vertebral Compression Fracture

Shyam Purswani, MD

Interventional Pain Management located in San Antonio, TX

Vertebral compression fractures affect about 750,000 people every year. As an expert in interventional pain medicine, Shyam Purswani, MD, has helped many patients overcome the pain of vertebral compression fractures with customized treatments that go to the source of the problem and strengthen the vertebra. If you have questions about compression fractures or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call the office in San Antonio or use the online booking feature.

Vertebral Compression Fracture Q & A

What causes vertebral compression fractures?

Compression fractures occur when a bone collapses because it’s too weak. This type of fracture most often affects your spine, where the condition is called a vertebral compression fracture.

You can develop a vertebral compression fracture during a traumatic injury such as a fall or car accident. A tumor may also weaken the bone enough to make it collapse. However, osteoporosis is the most common cause of spinal compression fractures.

How does osteoporosis cause vertebral compression fractures?

Throughout your adult life, your bones continuously get rid of old or damaged bone and replace it with new bone. This process, called remodeling, naturally slows down as you get older. If you don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, remodeling proceeds at an even slower pace.

Eventually, old bone is lost more quickly than new bone is produced and that’s what leads to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis increases your risk for all types of bone fractures, but it most often causes vertebral compression fractures.

What symptoms develop due to vertebral compression fractures?

Pain is the primary symptom of a spinal compression fracture. The pain may get worse when you move or when you cough or sneeze.

Over time, you may notice a rounded appearance in your upper back. This condition, called kyphosis, develops as the front part of the vertebra collapses while the back part stays intact. If several vertebrae develop compression fractures, the result is a rounded shape or hump in your spine.

How are vertebral compression fractures treated?

As a specialist in interventional pain medicine, Dr. Purswani may recommend pain relief with a nerve block. During a nerve block, the doctor identifies the nerve roots responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain. Then he injects an anesthetic combined with steroids at or near the nerves.

Anesthetic medications quickly reduce your pain by blocking nerve signals. Steroids provide longer-lasting relief as they reduce inflammation.

Dr. Purswani may recommend two other treatments for a vertebral compression fracture:

  • Vertebroplasty: specialized cement is injected into the collapsed vertebrae
  • Kyphoplasty: small balloons are used to restore height in the vertebrae before the cement is injected

Both procedures restore and strengthen the affected vertebrae and stabilize your spine.

If you suffer from back pain, call Shyam Purswani, MD, or book an appointment online.