Vertebral fractures are fractures of the vertebrae, or bones that make up the spine. There are many different types of fractures, and they can be caused by car accidents, falls, other trauma, and osteoporosis. Vertebral fractures caused by weakened bone tend to be in the lower back because those vertebrae support the most body weight. One function of vertebrae is to protect the spinal cord, and damage to the vertebrae could damage the spinal cord as well. There are also many blood vessels and nerves surrounding the vertebrae, so vertebral fractures often cause pain.
Although trauma can cause unexpected vertebral fractures, some factors that weaken bone and make you more susceptible to fractures include:
Some fractures, especially those resulting from weakened bone, may initially be asymptomatic. Over time, symptoms from vertebral fracture alone include:
If there is any damage to the spinal cord, additional symptoms will vary depending on the location of the damage.
The physician will perform a physical exam and ask about the above risk factors. To look for the fracture, the physician may also request:
The interventional radiologist uses continuous x ray imaging to guide a needle through the skin overlying the fractured spinal vertebra. A medical bone cement is injected into the body of the fractured vertebra. The cement hardens within 15 minutes and acts to provide internal stability to the fracture and prevent further collapse.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our IR physicians, please call 310-481-7545.