My aging aunt lives with us. At 92, she's still pretty spry. But last week, she couldn't get out of bed because of back pain. The doctor says she has a compression fracture of the spine. They said this can happen just turning over in bed. But Aunt Millie is really very strong. Is it possible she did something to cause this? Maybe a fall that she doesn't want us to know about?Posted January 8th, 2009 by Matt
Compression fractures are the most common type of fracture affecting the spine. When stress on the spine from everyday movements is greater than the strength of the bone, the bone fractures and collapses down on itself. That's a vertebral compression fracture (VCF). Compression fractures are often the result of osteoporosis, a common problem in older adults (especially postmenopausal women).
Spinal stenosis occurs with the spinal canal narrows to the point that it begins to press on the spinal nerves. This can cause pain and nerve problems, such as weakness in the area below the nerve level. When the stenosis happens in the cervical region (the neck and extreme upper back), this results in weakness in the arms, while lumbar spinal stenosis (the lower back) results in problems with the legs. Thoracic spinal stenosis, the mid-back, is more complicated.
Doctors know that anyone over the age of 50 experiencing sharp and sudden mid-to-low back pain could be suffering a vertebral compression fracture (VCF). These fractures of the vertebra can occur without obvious trauma. Osteoporosis (weakened or brittle bones) is the major risk factor. When stress on the spine from everyday movements is greater than the strength of the bone, the bone fractures and collapses down on itself. That's a vertebral compression fracture (VCF).
Any surgery is done knowing there are risks involved. The most serious risk is death. But sometimes the unusual happens. In this case report, a 70 year-old-woman who had spine surgery ended up with a rare condition called man-in-the-barrel syndrome (MIBS). The surgeons involved in the case present what happened in order to help other surgeons be aware of such a complication.
In this retrospective study, surgeons look back over the medical records and treatment results of 127 patients with an acute (recent) thoracolumbar burst fracture. Treatment for this condition isn't cut and dry. There are still many questions about the best way to go: should the patient have surgery to stabilize the spine? Or can the problem be treated just as well with a nonoperative (conservative) approach?
My mother's doctor wants to inject cement into her back to help her with her pain. He says that my mother has fractured discs and that the cement will help keep them stable. Will this hurt and how is it done?Posted October 23rd, 2008 by Matt
If your mother has vertebral fractures, she is likely in a good bit of pain. The treatment of injecting cement into the spinal area is meant to help relieve the pain. The cement the doctor uses is a special cement that has been used for many years in different types of treatments, including dental work. It's designed to bond with bone and to set quickly so it doesn't go outside of the area where it is supposed to be. The procedure is called a vertebroplasty.
People with osteoporosis (thinning bones) or certain types of cancers may end up with vertebral compression fractures, fractures in the discs of the spine. These fractures usually cause severe pain. The most common sign of someone with compressed discs is the "hunchback" that can occur as a result. To help manage the damage caused by vertebral compression fractures, doctors can do a vertebroplasty.
While percutaneous vertebroplasty is shown to be an effective, minimially invasive treatment for compression fractures, often subsequent fracture can be a problem. What is the likelihood of subsequent fracture?Posted August 28th, 2008 by Matt
Authors of a recent study reviewed available literature and found that subsequent vertebral fracture happens twelve to 52 percent of the time.
Y. Ahn et al. Predictive factors for subsequent vertebral fracture after percutaneous vertebroplasty. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. August 2008. Volume 9. Number 2. Pp. 129-136.
The authors described five case studies of patients who suffered traumatic spondyloptosis of the thoracolumbar junction. This is a rare but severe injury. There is complete fracture dislocation of the spine. These injuries have the highest association with spinal cord injury of all fracture types. The thoracolumbar junction is involved in 15 percent of all spinal cord injuries. Three of the five patients were involved in high speed motor vehicle crashes.
While percutaneous vertebroplasty is an effective tool in the treatment of vertebral compression fracture, twelve to 52 percent will have post percutaneous vertebroplasty, PVP, vertebral fracture.