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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Compression Fractures of the Back
      Category : Health Centers > Bones, Joints, and Muscles

Compression Fractures of the Back

Alternate Names : Vertebral Compression Fracture

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Brought on by force, a compression fracture is a break in a vertebra that causes it to collapse. The vertebrae are the box-shaped bones that make up the spine. Typically, a compression fracture is wedge-shaped, with more collapse in the front, due to force on the spine from forward bending.

What is going on in the body?

The spinal column of vertebrae, stacked one on top of another, supports the body in an upright position. When the force on the bone is greater than the strength of the bone, a compression fracture occurs. Fractures can also occur when the bones have been weakened. For example, in osteoporosis, fractures can occur spontaneously with no known injury. Compression fractures occur most often in the lower back or lumbar area. They also occur in the chest or thoracic area of the spine.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Most often, an injury is the cause. In young, healthy bone, a violent force such as a car accident or fall from a height is necessary to break the bone. In weak, thin bone, minor force such as sitting down hard or vigorous sneezing can cause the compression. Bone can be weak for various reasons, the most common being osteoporosis. Cancer can also weaken a vertebra.


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Compression Fractures of the Back: Symptoms & Signs

Author: John A.K. Davies, MD
Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 06/15/02

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