Vertebral compression fractures occur as a collapse of a vertebral body. The significance of the fracture and it’s associated pain depend often on the degree of wedging or collapse. Commonly these fractures have a relationship to osteopenia/osteoporosis that leads to weakening of the bone. Trauma can be a contributing factor as can infection. Fractures can also be metastatic from another cancer etiology.
Compression fractures usually cause increasing spine pain. Acute episodes present with sudden severe pain. Diagnosis is made by a spinal x-ray. A wedge deformity on the x-ray is what will be seen. There may be need for more sophisticated skeletal imaging with CT scan or MRI to assess for other bony or soft tissue injuries.
Treatments range from observation to bracing to a relatively simple surgical procedure called kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty. Pain can be managed with Tylenol, NSAIDs or opioids.