A spinal compression fracture can rear its ugly head at anytime, to anyone, but the trick is knowing when you are dealing with a minor back ache from over-activity or stress and when you potentially have a spinal compression fracture.
Besides all types of back pain, a very important symptom related to this type of injury is deformity of the spine. I'm sure you have heard of the animated movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame?” Well, he clearly had a severe case of spinal compression fractures, because that is exactly what the condition can do when left untreated. The medical terminology for this is kyphosis. This happens after multiple compression fractures because the fractures generally occur in the front part of the vertebrae because the back part of the bone is stronger. So, when the fracture chips away at the bone, the front part of the vertebrae shortens and the back of the bone stays in tact, causing the spine to hunch.
So, to avoid looking like a character from a fabulous animated movie, let’s discuss what I would call the three important red flags for spinal compression fractures. First and foremost, you need to see a doctor immediately if you are in a high-risk category for this condition. Secondly, you need to see a doctor immediately if you have worsening or sudden severe back pain, or something in your spine is more achy than normal. Thirdly, and more alarming, if you are experiencing any stomach problems, breathing complications or hip pain you could be facing multiple compression fractures.
If you are diagnosed with a spinal compression fracture, you have a few nonsurgical options. Generally speaking, allowing a compression fracture to heal naturally, you are looking at around a three month recovery. Although that time frame may seem long, the pain normally subsides significantly in days or up to a few weeks. Natural, nonsurgical recovery would include bed rest, a back brace to stabilize the spine and minimal to moderate physical activity to keep your body active.