Breaking your back is a pretty scary thought, but in reality, more than 700,000 people each year fracture their spines. Some people don’t even know it. The symptoms are easily mistaken for minor injuries because they can include backaches, appearing hunched, pain while standing straight, or loss of flexibility. People assume that these symptoms just come with aging, when really they could be suffering from a fracture in their spine.
While such fractures may not create big problems in the short-term, left untreated, they can cause serious long-term issues.
Most compression fractures occur at the end of the thoracic (middle) spine where it joins the lumbar (lower) spine. The 24 bones (vertebrae) that make up the spinal column must withstand a certain amount of stress. Compression fractures frequently affect people with osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become more brittle and breakable, leaving the vertebrae unable to do their job. They become so weak that even a strong sneeze or cough can cause a hairline fracture in the front of the vertebra. Another type of compression fracture, caused by falling too hard on your bottom, typically affects the back of the vertebra.
Whatever the cause of your compression fracture, the good news is that surgery is usually not necessary, especially when you seek treatment in a timely manner. Once recommended by your primary care physician, we will start you on a physical therapy program here at OSR about six to eight weeks after the fracture is often enough to treat the injury and prevent further problems.
- Therapies such as ice, electrical stimulation, rest or gentle stretching can relieve pain and inflammation.
- An orthosis, a special kind of back brace molded to your body, will protect your spine as it heals.
- Early mobilization, weight-bearing exercise and a combination of flexibility, strength and postural exercises can improve posture and enhance function.
Here at OSR in Kailua our integrated health center can offer you recommendations to modify your movements to avoid further strain on your back so that you can return to your daily activities safely and comfortably.