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Vertebral Compression Fracture

A vertebral compression fracture, also called a vertebral crush fracture, is a collapse or breakdown of one or more of the bones in your spine (the vertebrae).

This type of fracture typically results when osteoporosis, the “brittle bone” disease, weakens the bones in the spine. Aging, a lack of calcium and the sustained use of some medicines can also lead to weaker bones. A fall or jump may cause the fracture; but the bones sometimes collapse from the body’s own weight. Sometimes the injury can be caused by a slight nudge.

If the injury occurs suddenly, you may have severe pain or weakness in your back, arms, or legs. If the collapse happens more slowly, the pain may be much milder. You might also experience problems with urination and bowel movements.

A x-ray of the spine is used to determine the location of the injury. Casts and splints aren’t used for this type of fracture, but you may need to wear a back support. Your doctor also will probably prescribe medication for the pain and drugs that to strengthen the compressed spinal column.

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