Vertebral compression fracture: A fracture that collapses a spinal vertebra as a result of the compression of bone, leading to collapse of the vertebrae much like a sponge collapses under the pressure of one's hand. Although they may occur without pain, such vertebral fractures often cause a severe, band-like pain that radiates from the spine around both sides of the body. Over many years, spinal fractures lessen the height of the spine and the person becomes shorter. Vertebral compression fractures are often linked to osteoporosis. Treatment is usually with pain medicine, rest, injury avoidance, and bracing, although in some cases surgery can be used.
See also vertebroplasty.