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Care for Compression Fractures

Image of Dr. Dan Levesque, DC
Dr. Dan Levesque, DC
compression-fracture-care

     Many patients are surprised when they discover a spinal fracture on their x-ray and never even knew it! Compression fractures of the spine are actually quite common; but also commonly missed on hospital x-rays. Surprisingly, depending on where they occur, they also don’t always cause obvious symptoms. Compression fractures are caused by injuries/accidents but are of special concern to patients with weak bones. Osteoporosis patients are particularly prone to spinal compression fractures. This is why they are so often seen in elderly and greatly contribute to a slumped, humped back posture and loss of height. If you’re the unlucky recipient of a compression fracture, knowing how to take care of it will be important for not only maintaining your posture but keeping your spine healthy in the long run. Keep reading for the best ways of handling this problem here.

     A compression fracture is when the front aspect of one of your vertebrae collapses and loses its normal shape. This causes deformities in the spine and posture and gives many patients a stooped, bent or forward lean. Besides deranging your structure, compression fractures can sometimes also decrease the size of the opening where the spinal nerves exit, causing nerve injuries, pain and diminished function to your organs. Unfortunately, in most cases compression fracture deformities are permanent; once the vertebrae has collapsed, it’s rare for it to come back.

     There are a couple ways of getting a collapsed vertebrae back to more normal size/shape after a compression fracture, however these methods must be done within the first 2 weeks after the injury. One is a medical procedure called Vertebroplasty. This is a type of cement that’s injected into the damaged vertebrae in hopes it will refill/expand it back to its original size (1.) Clinically, we have not seen this procedure as effective as it is expensive and somewhat invasive.

     The right care for compression fractures is chiropractic, however not just any method. There are very specific procedures and recommendations for caring for an acute compression fracture that not all chiropractors practice. At Solutions, our doctors practice a type of chiropractic care called Gonstead and it is one of the best ways to treat spinal compression fractures. If the patient can get Gonstead chiropractic care within the first 2 weeks after the injury and follow exact procedures, they have an excellent chance of regaining the majority of height back to the collapsed bone, naturally - without cement.

     Unfortunately, many compression fractures are found after the fact and it is too late to regain vertebral height. In which case, keeping the damaged segment in proper alignment with ongoing chiropractic will be essential for keeping nerve openings free and combatting inevitable arthritic changes.

1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/vertebroplasty


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