Properly Assessing Compression Fractures Caused by Osteoporosis


For people suffering from osteoporosis, even the smallest trauma is tremendous cause for concern. Something as simple as slipping down two steps instead of one or accidently bumping into an open car door can leave you with a lingering pain that, in many cases, is a micro fracture. For those with severe osteoporosis the concern is heightened even further when the spine is involved.

Compression fractures in the spine are nothing short of excruciating. They present in acute, severe pain, which turns into a dull, throbbing ache that can persist for weeks and weeks. Eventually, as the fracture heals on its own (improperly), additional pain can be caused by overcompensation from the spine and its supporting muscle groups.

It may seem impossible to ignore something so detrimental to a person’s health, but for long-time osteoporosis sufferers, it could just be another injury in a series of mishaps. It’s important not to take this mentality, however: compression fractures are nothing to shrug off! Instead, we encourage you to visit the team at Ideal Health Spine Center in Boise, ID if you’re an osteoporosis sufferer experiencing acute pain.

Diagnosing a fracture                                        

Compression fractures generally occur more in the mid-to-lower back, often in the thoracic spine. They can be hard to diagnose with a hands-on assessment, which is why many Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) practitioners will order radiological imaging as a standard for osteoporosis patients.

There are often visual signs that a compression fracture exists, but they’re inconclusive without further evidence to support them. For example, an osteoporosis patient that has developed kyphosis or a hunched posture could signal more investigation into a possible compression fracture.

The role of radiological imaging

In the case of a compression fracture, radiological imaging is an invaluable tool. Chiefly, x-rays will be used to determine if the fracture is a crush, wedge, or burst fracture:

  • Crush fractures occur when the entire vertebrae fails. Osteoporosis weakens the entire vertebrae and results in the dramatic collapse of the structure. These commonly the most painful and traumatic types of compression fractures.
  • Wedge fractures often take on a wedge shape, where one side of the vertebrae is no longer able to support the weight above it. This results in the collapse of one side, which creates instability up the spine and radiological pain where nerves become crushed.
  • Burst fractures aren’t actually indicative of a burst, but rather an ongoing compression that worsens over time. This is the “slow collapse” version of a fracture, with progressive deformity to mark it.

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Knowing what kind of compression fracture a patient is dealing with determines the chiropractic course of action. For example, burst fractures may benefits from chiropractic adjustments to alleviate compression caused by gravity, while wedge fractures may demand bed rest, lifestyle changes, and muscle strengthening exercises around the affected area. Having radiological proof of a specific type of fracture allows a chiropractor to make the correct next-step assessment.

Regaining quality of life

Osteoporosis affects a person’s everyday quality of life, but that doesn’t mean its more detrimental effects can’t be assessed and treated. No person should be forced to live with the tumultuous pain of a compression fracture. At Ideal Spine Health Center in Boise, ID, we’re focused on helping our osteoporosis patients identify and treat this condition, while also taking steps to avoid it.

If you’re an osteoporosis sufferer, we invite you to get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.