Osteoporosis is the most common cause. Weakened bones are more likely to break from:
- Everyday actions, such as coughing, sneezing, or lifting light objects
- Falling from a chair
Other causes may be:
- Trauma from:
- A steep fall
- A motor vehicle accident
- A sports accident
- Bone cancer
A fracture caused by osteoporosis is more common in women who have been through menopause. A fracture caused by trauma is more common in young men.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Prior history of fractures
- Prior falls or being at risk of falling
- Alcohol use disorder
- Long term corticosteroid use
Underlying causes will need to be treated. The goal of treatment is to manage pain and help with healing. Options depend on the severity of the fracture. Choices are:
- Over the counter or prescription pain relievers
- A back brace
- Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion
Some people may need surgery. Choices are:
- Vertebroplasty —Liquid cement is injected into the bone to ease pain and restore movement.
- Kyphoplasty —A balloon-like device is used to create a small space in the bone near the fracture. The cement is injected into the space.
- Spinal fusion —Two or more bones are joined together in the spine.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Fracture, Vertebral Compression)
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases https://www.niams.nih.gov
National Osteoporosis Foundation https://www.nof.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://coa-aco.org
Women's College Hospital—Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
McCarthy J, Davis A. Diagnosis and Management of Vertebral Compression Fractures. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Jul 1;94(1):44-50.
Thoracolumbar vertebral compression fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/thoracolumbar-vertebral-compression-fracture. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Vertebral compression fractures. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Vertebral-Compression-Fractures. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=vertebro. Accessed January 28, 2021.