If you work a physical job or your hobbies include back-bending activities like gardening, golfing, or tennis, you may assume that any chronic back pain you're experiencing is just one of the more unpleasant changes that can come with aging. However, for those who have struggled with bone density issues in their younger years, chronic pain in the upper or lower back can actually signify spinal compression fractures. Read on to learn more about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of these compression fractures.
What can cause a compression fracture?
Unlike other types of fractures, which are generally caused by an injury or direct blow to the bone at issue, compression fractures are more gradual in onset and can happen slowly over time. Compression fractures are often a sign of low bone density; without the proper bone structure to support your body's weight, the vertebrae in your spine can be compressed downward, ultimately resulting in compression fractures. Many individuals who suffer from osteoporosis are first diagnosed with this bone density disorder after seeking treatment for pain that is ultimately determined to be caused by one or more undiagnosed compression fractures.
How are compression fractures diagnosed?
A compression fracture is most easily diagnosed through an X-ray of the spine or other affected areas. If a compression fracture is suspected, your doctor may also order testing of your bone density to see if osteoporosis is a contributing factor; because compression fractures can't be "cured," but only managed, it's important to rule out any possible unknown causes so that the treatment protocol can focus on prevention of further fractures.
How can you treat a compression fracture?
Compression fractures can't be mended in the same way as other fractures, particularly when low bone density is involved. However, there are a number of different ways you can manage the symptoms and side effects of your compression fractures, including:
- targeted exercises to strengthen your back muscles;
- a back brace to provide additional support;
- rest and recuperation to avoid more strain on your fractured vertebrae; and
- the use of anti-inflammatory medication to reduce your pain.
By implementing some of these treatment methods, you'll be able to enjoy a life largely free of the back pain that's been plaguing you. These treatment methods can also prevent your compression fractures from becoming worse over time, which can lead to harder-to-treat pain, a loss of several inches or more in height, or a hunchbacked appearance.
For more information, talk to a company like Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates.