Compression Fractures

Compression fractures are small breaks in the vertebrae (bones in your spine). As our bones weaken with age-related degeneration and osteoporosis, they are more susceptible to fractures.

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What are Compression Fractures?

Compression fractures can occur after low energy trauma such as a fall from a standing height, especially in elderly patients with osteoporosis.

While most compression fractures may heal well without surgery, sometimes the fractures collapse due to instability and may damage the spinal cord.

Minimally invasive key-hole surgeries are commonly performed to allow restoration of a straight back and prevent nerve damage.

If your compression fracture is related to osteoporosis, your doctor will recommend to treat the osteoporosis. You may need to take bone-strengthening medicine in addition to calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Types of Compression Fractures

Wedge fracture

This is the most common type of compression fracture. It generally occurs in the the front of the vertebra, causing it to give way but leaving the back of the bone intact. A wedge compression fracture can lead to spinal deformity, most commonly a hunchback posture.

Crush Fracture

This fracture is characterised by a fracture throughout the entire vertebra, not just the front. For this type of compression fracture, the bone usually collapses in on itself.

Burst fracture

A burst fracture occurs when the vertebra breaks in multiple directions. This type of fracture is often more serious than either a wedge or a crush fracture, a burst fracture usually requires the patient to seek immediate medical help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms?

Compression fractures can occur suddenly, causing severe back pain. On the other hand, compression fractures due to osteoporosis may cause no symptoms initially. They are usually discovered when x-rays of the spine are conducted for other complaints.

Over a period of time, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Developing a stooped-over posture, or kyphosis, also called a dowager’s hump
  • A decrease in your height (as much as 15 centimeters)
  • Limited movement in your spine causing your difficulty in bending or twisting
  • Numbness, muscle weakness or tingling as well as limited mobility
What are my treatment options?

Treatment for a vertebral fracture will usually involve taking care of the person’s pain and mobility, using heat or ice to ease the pain, and slowing down the person’s return to activity. Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to help the fracture heal.

  • Vertebroplasty. In this minimally invasive surgery, your surgeon uses a small needle to inject low viscosity cement into your fractured vertebra under high pressure. This procedure aims to stabilise the fracture while strengthening the area, resulting in pain relief for the back.
  • Kyphoplasty. This surgery is similar to vertebroplasty. The key difference being that before the injection of cement, small balloons are used to expand the fractured space and restore some or all of the lost vertebral body height. The balloons are then removed and the empty space filled with cement.
How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will learn more about your health history and recent injuries before conducting a physical exam. They will check to evaluate the areas where you are experiencing pain and discomfort. Further tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI will also be used to get a better picture of the condition of your spine. In addition, there may also be a bone density test to evaluate for osteoporosis.

Targeted Procedures

Spinal Fusion

Why choose spinal fusion?
Spinal fusion is a type of spine surgery performed to promote stability at a diseased motion segment. This usually involves removal of the lamina (portion of the vertebrae that covers the spinal cord). Removing the lamina relieves pain and pressure. Subsequently, screws and rods are inserted. Bone grafts are added to the sides of the spine. The grafted bone will then fuse to the spine.

Is it suitable for me?
You may be a candidate for spinal fusion if you have signs and symptoms of spinal instability. These may include pain, weakness or numbness of the hands and feet.


This minimally invasive treatment is used to repair bone fractures caused by osteoporosis or cancer. It stabilises the spine, providing rapid back pain relief and helping prevent further weakening of the spine.

The procedure usually:

  • 1) After an area on the back is numbed, a tube is inserted through a small incision and positioned under x-ray guidance.
  • 2) The weakened area in the vertebra is filled with bone cement to stabilise the fracture. Once filled, the tube is removed. In some cases, the cement may be injected in both the left and right sides of the vertebra.


This minimally invasive procedure treats the spine fractures caused by osteoporosis. It is designed to provide rapid back pain relief and help straighten the spine.

The procedure explained:

  • 1) Through a half-inch incision, small instruments are placed into the fractured vertebral body to create a working channel. A special balloon device is then carefully inserted and inflated to create a cavity. The balloon is then deflated and the cavity is filled with bone cement to stabilise the fracture.

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