Medical Definition of Vertebral compression fracture

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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