Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment with Vertebroplasty
The bones and muscles in your back are an essential component of stability, mobility, and movement. The spine, composed of your vertebrae, provides a sheath of protection for your spinal cord, which houses the nerve endings that control mobility and movement. When you suffer compression fractures in any of your vertebrae, you can experience significant pain, as well as a loss of range of motion and flexibility.
The Causes and Effects of a Vertebral Compression Fracture (VCF)
Compression fractures can stem from a variety of events or circumstances, including:
- Osteoporosis, a condition that typically comes with age and causes bones to become weak and brittle
- Traumatic accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, or slip-and-falls
Untreated compression fractures in your vertebrae can result in significant spinal deformity. The weakened condition caused by a compression fracture in one vertebra can make other vertebrae more susceptible to compression fractures, leading to a condition known as “dowager’s hump,” where multiple VCFs cause your back to appear bent and rounded. The consequences are not just aesthetic, though. Multiple vertebral compression fractures can limit your ability to walk, eat, sleep, and even breathe.
Vertebral compression fractures are commonly diagnosed by X-ray, MRI imaging, or a CT scan. Your doctor also may conduct a bone-density test to determine whether you suffer from osteoporosis.
Vertebroplasty as Treatment for a Vertebral Compression Fracture
The process known as vertebroplasty essentially glues a fractured vertebra back together. The surgeon makes a small incision at the point of the fracture and then inserts a hollow needle into the fractured vertebra. Bone cement is then sent through the hollow needle into the area of the fracture. Once the bone cement has been inserted into all fractures, the needle is removed and the cement hardens.
There is typically some pain associated with a vertebroplasty, and you’ll have to remain mostly immobile for a minimum of 24 hours. You’ll also have weight and activity restrictions for a month or two.