Vertebral Compression Fractures
Dr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Like any bone in the body, a vertebra in the spine can break. Yet, when a vertebra breaks and collapses, it is called a vertebral compression fracture. While compression fractures can occur anywhere along the spine, they are most common in the mid-back, or thoracic region. The structure of the human spine is designed to withstand the weight and force of impact. However, a very hard fall or jump, a car accident or a weak spine can result in a fracture of the vertebrae.
To better understand, posture plays a role in individuals that suffer a compression fracture from a fall. For example, when someone falls in a sitting position, the spine bends at the same time as the head thrusts forward. The combination of the individual’s posture and the force applied during the fall can cause a fracture. Even so, osteoporosis is believed to be an underlying cause of vertebral compression fractures. It impairs the ability of the spine to absorb pressure. In fact, a compression fracture is the number one reason why elderly women suffer loss of height and kyphosis (a humped back). Similar to the effects of osteoporosis, cancer can make individuals susceptible to a compression fracture, as it weakens the structure of the spine.
Back pain from compression fractures may be severe if there is sudden injury or impact. In turn, pain may be progressive and worsen over time, as a result of osteoporosis. Specific symptoms include: pain (anywhere along the spine, including hips, abdominal region or thighs), numbness and tingling, weakness or the loss of bladder control.
Treatment and Rehabilitation for Vertebral Compression Fractures
Empowering patients in their recovery, physiatrists are well positioned to determine treatment and rehabilitation for those having sustained vertebral compression fractures.
To address pain and inflammation, specific treatments may incorporate the use of ice and heat therapy, exercise and stretching. Anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, and epidural steroid injections also prove effective at reducing inflammation as patients build tolerance for additional rehabilitation. In turn, patients are counseled in body mechanics and managing activity levels. This may include wearing a back brace to support the structure of the spine.
While physiatrists execute a number of treatment modalities, these methods provide ongoing diagnostic information that is pertinent to the patient’s outcome. In other words, as the patient’s condition changes and improves, the physiatrist will propose a treatment continuum that optimizes patient care and maximizes function and quality of life.
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
If you are suffering from back pain, or if you are experiencing changes in sensation or loss of bladder control, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Englewood today.