Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral Compression Fractures

A vertebral compression fracture or “wedge fracture” usually occurs in the front of the vertebra, collapsing the front section of the vertebra and leaving the back of the same bone unchanged, creating a wedge-shaped vertebra. Compression fractures may be caused by trauma or a weakening of the vertebra. A compression fracture causes the main section of each vertebra, called a vertebral body, to collapse in height by at least 15 to 20%.

Compression fractures are often the result of osteoporosis, a type of bone thinning disease that most often affects older women, particularly those who are past menopause. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue over time. This makes the bone fragile and increases the risk of fractures, especially of the spine. Vertebral compression fractures are also caused by trauma caused by car accidents, or falls where patients landed sharply on their feet or buttocks.

Symptoms of Vertebral Compression Fractures

Compression fractures caused by osteoporosis may result in little or no pain at first, but as the condition worsens, symptoms may include muscle fatigue and pain and pain over the site of the fracture.

Causes of Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures can be caused by osteoporosis, trauma, and diseases affecting bone (pathologic fracture).

Diagnosing Vertebral Compression Fractures

If a vertebral compression fracture is suspected, the doctor will test for tenderness and sensitivity near specific vertebrae along the spine. Based on the patient’s history and physical exam, if a vertebral fracture is suspected, an x-ray will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques

Treatment for the majority of vertebral fractures are rest, pain medication, heat pads and ice packs for local pain, and a gradual return to everyday activities. However, when surgery is required, the two most common procedures are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.


During a vertebroplasty, a specially designed bone cement is injected directly into the fractured vertebra through a small profile needle. The cement keeps the vertebra from collapsing any further and eliminates motion within the bone. This stops the severe pain and strengthens the fractured bone.


A kyphoplasty procedure is essentially the same as vertebroplasty. The only difference is a balloon is placed inside the fractured bone prior to cement injection. When the balloon is inflated, it creates space within the vertebrae to  hold the fracture in place and make sure the cement fills the void.

Multiple Treatments, Faster Recovery

Treatment options for vertebral compression fractures includes nonsurgical as well as multiple minimally invasive surgical procedures. DISC of Louisiana is a locally owned Orthopaedic Spine Group specializing in the treatment of vertebral compression fractures, as well as the full spectrum of spinal conditions. Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James specialize in the latest minimally invasive spinal procedures for patients across south Louisiana.

More Information

If you have questions about spinal stenosis or the minimally invasive spine procedures offered by DISC of Louisiana, please contact us to schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics across the south Louisiana region.

DISC of Louisiana Locations

New Orleans | Hammond | Slidell | Covington | Metairie | Baton Rouge | Gonzales

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