Compression Fracture

What is a Compression Fracture?

Compression fractures are either spontaneous or traumatic breaks in the anterior (front) part of the spinal column, the vertebral body. These fractures often cause pain, but may also cause height loss of the vertebral body and forward angulation of the spine called kyphosis.

Most compression fractures occur in the lower and middle back and are common in patients with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the condition in which bones lose density and strength as we age.  In patients with osteoporosis, fractures can occur as the result of activity that would never cause an injury in a patient with normal bone quality.  Other causes of compression fractures include traumatic injuries, like falls or car accidents, or when a metastatic cancer weakens the bone.

Compression fracture


Patients with a compression fracture may have some or none of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the back, usually in the midline but which may radiate to other parts of the body
  • Inability to stand upright
  • Pain with breathing
  • A bent forward posture (kyphosis)

How To Diagnose Compression Fractures

If your doctor suspects a compression fracture they will likely order an imaging study to confirm their suspicion.  Imaging studies utilized to assess compression fractures include:

  • X-Ray
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography scan (CT)
  • Nuclear bone scan

These tests provide a clearer image of the affected bones and can be useful in determining whether a patient has suffered a compression fracture. Since compression fractures usually occur in weakened bone, a doctor may also run tests to check for osteoporosis, tumor, or infection.

Treatment for Compression Fractures

Most treatment options for compression fractures are non-surgical. Physical therapy or pain medication may be prescribed to relieve symptoms. Sometimes compression fractures heal without surgery..

Surgery may be necessary if the fracture causes pain that limits activity despite being given time to heal or if the fracture continues to progress causing the patient to develop a forward angulation (kyphosis).  Surgical options include:

Compression fracture treatment options will depend on the extent of the fracture and each individual.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ditty to discuss your surgical options. Dr. Ditty and his team will guide you through the steps you need to take for pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical recovery, including nonsurgical lifestyle changes to prevent further compression issues.

Call (239) 337-2003 today to schedule a consultation or learn more.

Dr. Ditty and staff are very nice & understanding. I wasn’t able to stand up straight and was living in constant debilitating pain until Dr. Ditty and his P.A., Kelly straightened up my spine. I am forever grateful for them.

Holly G.

December 2020

Dr. Ditty is “a breath of fresh air” among physicians. He is kind, thorough, and a good listener. His skills as a neurosurgeon are amazing!

Alex G.

Dr. Ditty was wonderful. Not only was he great, but his office staff went above and beyond. They were so compassionate and competent. The office environment was very clean and covid friendly. The girls were constantly disinfecting every surface every hour on the hour. I was very impressed. Great place!!!!!!!!!! Even better staff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sam M.