What is a Compression Fracture?
A compression fracture is a common fracture of the spine. It implies that the vertebral body has suffered a crush or wedging injury. The vertebral body is the block of bone that makes up the spinal column. When an external force is applied to the spine, such as from a fall or carrying of a heavy object, the forces may exceed the ability of the bone within the vertebral body to support the load. This may cause the front part of the vertebral body to crush forming a compression fracture. The compression fracture may range from mild to severe in terms of severity. A mild compression fracture causes minimal pain, minimal deformity and is often treated with time and activity modification. A severe compression fracture may be such that the spinal cord or nerve roots are involved, as they are draped over the sudden angulation of the spine. This may cause severe pain, a hunched forward deformity (kyphosis) and rarely neurologic deficit from spinal cord compression.