Vertebral compression fractures occur in more than 700,000 patients in the United States each year. More frequent than hip fractures, vertebral compression fractures can often result in prolonged disability.
Vertebral compression fractures occur when one or more spinal vertebra break and collapse (compress) due to weakness or injury. Weakness is commonly caused by osteoporosis.
Until recently, doctors were limited in how they could treat osteoporosis-related spine fractures. Pain medications, bed rest, bracing and invasive spinal surgery were the only options available. Today, epidural steroid injections can help reduce the majority of the pain.
Two promising therapeutic treatments for vertebral compression fractures are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Both treatments are performed by an interventional spine specialist who injects a cement-type substance into the fractured vertebra to stabilize it.