What to Expect If You Are Diagnosed with Spinal Compression Fractures

Spinal compression fractures are often found in people with osteoporosis but can be caused by trauma, age, and bone disease. The fractures may be small and relatively easy to treat or large enough to require surgical correction. Treatment and management after treatment can be a long process, and, depending on the severity of the injury, methods of care vary greatly. In all cases, the pain from these fractures is substantial and often makes it nearly impossible to sleep, stand, or sit without pain. Here are several ways that compression fractures can be treated.

Natural Healing

In cases where the compression fracture is not severe, recommended treatment may be natural healing of the injury. Often the treatment will include bed rest and pain medication. Allowing a compression fracture to heal in this way may take up to three months but the result is typically positive. While the pain can last for several months, most doctors that recommend this route prescribe strong pain medications to make the process easier for the patient.


In some cases, bracing the back with a full torso brace is required. The brace will support the back and allow the spinal column to heal but can also negatively affect the core muscle that is used to support your back and body normally. The brace takes over the task of support so the muscle can become weak over time. But if the muscle is not strong enough to support the back, the brace may be the only option.

Surgical Intervention

Some situations require surgery to correct the fracture. In these cases, the recovery may include a back brace to support the muscle and the spine. The typical surgical intervention involves stabilizing the break and removing small pieces of bone that are causing pain. The surgery is typically performed from the patient's back with a midline incision but can be done from other positions if needed to reach the damaged vertebrae.

Physical Therapy after Treatment

Physical therapy after treatment of the spinal compression fracture starts after the fracture has healed. Often the therapist will work with you to try and strengthen the muscles that have not been used during the recovery period. This might involve stretching, lifting, or weight bearing exercises to rebuild the muscle tissue over time. The process can be slow and difficult, but the pace needs to be set by the therapist to ensure that the patient does not over do it and cause further injury.

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