The bones that form your spine are called vertebrae. When a vertebra breaks, it is called vertebral fracture.
The potential causes of spinal fracture include a force that the spine is unable to withstand, or a milder force applied to a weaker spine such as the case in osteoporosis.
When the fracture is caused by a sudden, forceful injury, it may produce severe pain in the back, legs, and arms. If this fracture also injures the spinal nerves, it may result in numbness and/or weakness. If the bone fractures and collapses more gradually—for example, as a result of bone thinning--the pain will usually be milder.
The most common diagnostic tool is an X-ray/MRI to check if a vertebrae has been broken.
The most common treatments for a thoracic compression fracture are decreasing activity, bracing, and mild pain medications. If conservative measures fail, non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedures, such as kyphoplasty, can also be used. Surgery might be necessary to prevent the bone from collapsing onto spinal nerves and causing more serious damage. Some type of internal fixation may be used to hold the vertebra in the proper position while it heals. In addition, the surgeon may need to remove any bone fragments putting pressure on the spinal cord.
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