Compression Fracture

What is a Compression Fracture?

A compression fracture in medical terms refers to when a vertebral bone in the spine has decreased at least 15 to 20% in height due to a fracture. Learn about compression fractures hereImage of Compression Fracture

However, how does one know when a bone has decreased by this magical percentage unless you are a doctor? An easier understanding of a compression fracture is to think of a bone that has essentially been squished and crumbled under the pressure. 

These types of fractures are most commonly seen in the thoracic spine or mid back. 

What causes a Compression Fracture?

The most common cause of a compression fracture is osteoporosis that has created a weakening of the bone making it vulnerable to injury. 

Many people with this cause of injury are unable to pinpoint a specific incident or trauma, but can usually think back to a time when they lifted or reached wrong and felt an onset of pain.Other causes can include a traumatic incident or disease pathology that creates bone loss. 

How will one know if they have a Compression Fracture?

The most common complaint associated with this fracture is mid back pain. Many people will describe the pain as an ache, annoyance and will sometimes think that it is muscle pain. One might notice that they are leaning forward when walking to help reduce the pain.  

Some people assume that because the injury is related to the spine that they should expect to experience tingling or numbness, however, a compression fracture is usually stable and therefore there tends to be minimal nerve involvement.

What Now?

Once you have decided to see a doctor because your back pain has been lingering and you cannot seem to find a way to relieve it, imaging will aid the physician with the diagnosis and best treatment options. 

Depending on the severity of the fracture, one of our physicians will recommend surgical or nonsurgical treatment. The surgical procedure will either consist of a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty in which they will stabilize the bone with surgical cement.  

Some people may not be a candidate for surgery and will be prescribed physical therapy to assist with recovery.

How can Physical Therapy help?

Physical therapy may be prescribed after the surgery or for those who are not candidates for surgery to aid with recovery. Soft tissue massage will be utilized to aid with the tight muscles around the spine that have tensed up in an attempt to help stabilize the spine.  

One always enjoys a massage. Unfortunately, with massage comes some work. The focus after decreasing the pain will be to help the patient with upright posture and strength.  It is, after all, important to look up so you can see where you are walking. If you would like to learn more, visit our trending articles.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, go to: or call 904-858-7045.

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

By: Amanda Garland, PT/ATC

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