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Compression fracture of the spine: what is it, symptoms, treatment

Compression fractures of the spine is one of the most serious damage, because they can make a person disabled. Fracture you can get from strong blows, diving into the water or falling on your feet from a great height, excessive loads during intense sports activities. A compression fracture can also appear without a strong physical impact is traumatic and severe form of osteoporosis, which involves the lack of calcium in the body.

kompressionnyj perelom pozvonochnika

What is it?

To understand what is a compression fracture, let us consider our anatomy. Vertebral bone, which combine to create the vertebral column, have the body, two arcs and the root that binds them together. In its form it resembles a ring, inside of which is the spinal canal. In the case of compression there is compression of the vertebrae with each other, resulting in the modification of a vertebral body. So it can change its shape or it will crack. Can be injured body as soon as a group of vertebrae, both standing nearby, and located separately from each other.

In the thoracic spine is more susceptible to other injuries of the eleventh and twelfth vertebrae, for the reason that they have higher load. In the lower part suffers, basically, the first vertebrae, the deformation of which are flattened spinal nerve roots. Causes compression fractures of the vertebrae of the neck are a fall from height, road accident or other head injury.


Vertebral compression fractures are divided into categories according to the degree of compression of vertebral bodies, fracture characteristics, existing complications and intensity of symptoms.

kakimi byvaut kompressionnye perelomy pozvonochnika

According to the degree of compression

There are three levels of difficulty of compression fractures of the spine, depending on the force of penetration of a vertebral body:

  1. When the injury first degree is observed the compression of the vertebra by 20 – 40 % of its normal height.
  2. The second degree of the vertebra is reduced by half.
  3. The third level of complexity involves the compression of bones more than twice.

On the modification of the vertebra

  • Wedge-shaped fracture. The vertebra is compressed on one side, forming a wedge shape. Moreover, the narrow part is facing the internal organs.
  • Compression-tear. In this injury the anterior part of the vertebra is detached from the main body. With the edges of both parts are uneven. Often this phenomenon is accompanied by the displacement of the detachable part forward and down, which causes damage to the longitudinal ligament. Sometimes the vertebrae are separated several parts.
  • Shrapnel. This type of fracture is also called loose – blasting. Due to the strong compression of the vertebra is broken into several pieces that are moving away from each other because of the pressure of the intervertebral discs. The back side of the vertebrae fall within the spinal canal, causing disruption of the spinal cord. This provokes various disorders of the nervous system.


  • Uncomplicated fracture is characterized by pain in the area of the spine. Often the person believes that the discomfort is caused by other reasons and is not examined for trauma. Subsequently, such carelessness can cause the appearance of degenerative disc disease or sciatica.
  • A complicated fracture is accompanied by disorders of the nervous system. The occurrence of fragments of the most dangerous, because there is damage to nerve processes, resulting in loss of sensitivity and numbness.


Symptoms of compression fractures of the spine are the pain of different intensity, as well as limitation of motion of the spine, hands and feet. Depending on which spine the injury occurred, symptoms of varying intensity.

When injury to the cervical pain is felt in the neck, which aktiviziruyutsya when moving the head and by touching of the damaged area. In the injury thoracic or lumbar appearspain with movement of the body. When lying down it's hard to roll over and lift his legs. On the back is noticeable curvature, which is formed of the damaged or bulging area of the vertebra.

Spinous processes of damage ligaments, resulting in a diastasis, that is, the divergence of the muscle fibers. When touching the ground with the presence of bone damage and the appearance of physical activity pain is worse.

This injury can be problems when going to the toilet. If the spinal cord is not injured much, these problems disappear after 2-3 days. The strength and duration of the pain is different depending on the extent and nature of compression. But it significantly increases during any physical activity. In severe fractures, the pain becomes unbearable, this happens due to modified breathing and even complete immobilization of the patient. Because the vertebrae are stored the nerve roots, their compression provokes problems of the nervous system, and when severe the injury may be affected and the spinal cord.


Back pain is not a direct basis for of this diagnosis, as it can cause a multitude of other reasons. To determine in humans the presence of compression fractures and treatment initiated, the following types of surveys:

  • X-rays of the spine taken directly and the side. It allows you to see the damaged vertebra, the degree of compression and possible complications. This procedure is basic to determine the disease and is mandatory in cases of suspected trauma.
  • For a more in-depth study of the injured area is prescribed a CT scan.
  • To study the performance and potential of spinal cord lesions, the influence on him of the resulting fracture, apply myelography.
  • Examination by a neurologist is to determine the presence of damage in the work of the spinal cord parts of the nervous system.
  • In very complex cases, if there is suspicion that the modified structure of the spine, the doctor will prescribe an MRI.
  • Densitometry, it is necessary to conduct to test for the presence of osteoporosis.

If there is suspicion of the presence of injury, you should immediately see a doctor. Procrastination and attempts to cope with trauma themselves can have serious complications, up to paralysis.


The treatment of compression fracture of the spine is to remove pain, facilitate healing places of the fracture, restoration of muscle activity and the natural function of the nerve roots, and if necessary, surgical restoration of vertebral body to its previous form and location.

Posttraumatic recovery is about three months, at this time, the patient fixation and immobilization of the fracture and limitation of motion of the patient.

For people who have suffered a compression fracture of the spine, is assigned to treatment: the Use of analgesics to relieve pain, to enhance the effect of administered procaine blockade, in severe situations, a doctor may be prescribed drugs of opioid group.

  • If necessary, the operating activities used kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, as these types are less traumatic.
  • Special therapy and other ways to restore the activity of the muscular system and the plasticity of the vertebral column.


Rehabilitation activities can begin only after the treatment of compression fractures of the spine and proper healing of the injured vertebrae. Fusion of vertebral bodies – a phenomenon not fast, on average it takes about 3 months. During this time, muscles weaken due to low physical activity and the use of corsets.

The event is aimed at strengthening the muscular load, restoring cell regeneration and improved circulation to the damaged part. The duration and intensity of rehabilitation treatments range from features compression fracture, rate of bone healing and duration of healing.

When rehabilitation to the victims carry out the following procedure:

  • Physical therapy: wraps with paraffin or ozokerite, UHF, UV rays, etc.;
  • A course of massages;
  • Special exercises to gradually rebuild muscle tone;
  • Breathing exercises, especially for patients who have suffered injury of the thoracic spine.

A as maintain andenhance the effect, turn to the chiropractor, who can help to restore the lost health using traditional medicine. But this therapy must be discussed with the attending trauma surgeon and contact a highly qualified expert in chiropractic.

pitanie v posleoperacionnyj period

In the diet of the patient after the trauma it is desirable to include products, which include the b vitamins and also rich in calcium, zinc and magnesium. These micronutrients will help strengthen bones and rapid tissue regeneration. From products capable to flush calcium from the body should be abandoned at least during recovery. You should also remember that excessive greasy food does not allow the calcium absorbed by the body and alcohol impairs metabolism and disrupts the activity of healthy cells.

If faced with this disease, do not despair. Today, the medicine is successfully coping with compression fractures and helps a person to fully recover. But remember, what to ignore, and even more, to self-medicate in this case is unacceptable and may result in huge danger. At the first suspicion must be examined by a trauma surgeon and, if necessary, to start treatment.