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Compression Fracture

Minimally Invasive Spine Center of South Florida

Orthopedic Spine Surgeons located in Miami-Dade County, Miami, FL

Often caused by osteoporosis, a compression fracture is a painful injury that occurs when bones in the spine break under pressure. Dr. Jon Gottlieb can diagnose compression fractures accurately and offer treatment options to help you heal faster. If you have the symptoms of a compression fracture, please contact our office in South Miami, Florida, today to make an appointment with Dr. Gottlieb.

Compression Fracture Q & A

What is a compression fracture?

A compression fracture is an injury that occurs when a bone in the spine collapses because of pressure. The most common type of compression fracture is known as a “wedge fracture,” which occurs when the front of the vertebral body breaks but the back doesn’t.

Compression fractures can occur in any part of the spine, but they’re more common in the middle and lower parts of the back. Some patients may develop compression fractures in more than one vertebral body at the same time.

How do patients know if they have a compression fracture?

Compression fractures often cause symptoms, including:

  • Loss of height over time

  • Weakness or numbness in your arms and/or legs

  • Pain in your back, legs, or arms

If the compression fracture occurs gradually over time, the symptoms may appear gradually as well. However, if the fracture occurs suddenly, the pain may come on quickly and be severe.

If Dr. Gottlieb suspects that you may have a compression fracture, he will order tests to confirm the diagnosis. Some of these tests may include x-rays, computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a nuclear bone scan.

What causes this condition?

In most cases, compression fractures occur because your vertebrae are weak. The most common cause of weak vertebrae is osteoporosis. However, vertebrae may also become weak because of tumors or infection.

In rare cases, compression fractures may develop in healthy vertebrae because of trauma.

How does Dr. Gottlieb treat compression fractures?

In most cases, a vertebral fracture will heal within approximately three months. During this time, Dr. Gottlieb may recommend wearing a brace to keep the pressure off your injured vertebrae. You may also need to take pain medication to deal with your symptoms, and you may need to avoid certain activities while your vertebrae heal.

To make sure your vertebrae are healing properly, Dr. Gottlieb may recommend regular x-rays. In very rare cases, surgery may be necessary.

Can patients prevent compression fractures?

After you’ve had one compression fracture, you may be at a higher risk for future fractures. To prevent future fractures, Dr. Gottlieb will treat the underlying cause. For example, if you have osteoporosis, you may need vitamin supplements and/or osteoporosis medication.

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