Thoracic and Lumbar Compression Fractures

Thoracic and Lumbar Compression Fracture – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Thoracic Compression Fracture

Spinal vertebrae are extremely strong and resilient, but they are still susceptible to fractures, just like the other bones in your body. A vertebral compression fracture occurs when a bone, or vertebra, in the spine collapses. These types of fractures often happen in the lower vertebra of the thoracic spine, or midback. The course of treatment will usually depend on the severity of the fracture and if there are any other associated injuries.

Lumbar Compression Fracture

The five vertebrae that make up the lower back are the largest and strongest of all vertebrae along the spine. Spinal compression fractures usually occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine, or where these two vertebrae connect. A lumbar compression fracture is typically the result of underlying conditions such as osteoporosis or high-energy traumas. It can result in moderate to severe pain that worsens with movement.

The Causes of Thoracic and Lumbar Compression Fractures

Most healthy bones are able to withstand the constant pressure we put our bodies under. However, if this force is too great, one or more vertebrae may fracture. There are many causes of thoracic and lumbar compression fractures include the following:

  • Osteoporosis is often the culprit, especially for postmenopausal women
  • High-energy traumas including motor vehicle accidents, sports accidents or falls
  • Tumors and other underlying conditions that weaken the vertebrae
  • Injuries can change the shape of the lumbar vertebra, affecting lumbar posture and curve

The Symptoms of Thoracic and Lumbar Compression Fractures

A compression fracture can cause moderate to severe pain along either the thoracic or lumbar spine. There may be other injuries associated with these fractures, especially if the fracture was caused by a high-energy trauma. Symptoms for this condition may include:

  • If the compression fracture is caused by traumatic injury, you may feel severe pain in your back, arms, and legs.
  • A high-energy trauma can also cause you to lose consciousness or sustain a brain injury.
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the back and limbs.
  • Back pain that worsens with movement.
  • If the spinal cord and nerves are involved, you may experience incontinence.

Treatment Options for Thoracic and Lumbar Compression Fractures

Treating thoracic or lumbar compression fractures correctly depends on other associated injuries, the fracture pattern and whether there is any neurological damage. Once other injuries are stabilized, a doctor will be able to evaluate the spinal fracture and determine if surgery is necessary. The operations can be performed under moderate sedation rather than general anesthesia.
Some other ways to treat this condition may include:

  • Pain medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Bed rest and activity limitations for a few days to weeks
  • Wearing a back brace for additional support and gradually increase motion
  • Physical therapy exercises to reduce pain, improve thoracic mobility, and strengthen the lumbar spine
  • Laminectomy, or spinal decompression to relieve pressure on the nerves
  • Vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedures to reinforce vertebrae and provide support

If surgery is necessary to correct your compression fracture, reach out to us at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic. Through innovative surgical techniques and equipment, Dr. Lewis can reduce the risk of patients developing serious neurological problems by treating the source of the pain and ensuring future damage is prevented. He has shared his knowledge and skills by teaching technical surgical courses to other surgeons across the country.

Contact us today to learn more about thoracic and lumbar compression fractures or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.