If you struggle with weaker bones, this can increase your chances of developing vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). While VCFs can cause severe back pain, there are a variety of treatment options available to safely and effectively treat the condition.

Severe back pain isn’t just something you should ignore or live with. Without proper treatment for your vertebral compression fracture, this can not only worsen your condition but significantly reduce your quality of life.

Fortunately, there are various nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available to help provide pain relief for those suffering from vertebral compression fractures. From vertebral compression fracture medication to help reduce pain and strengthen your bones to several minimally invasive procedures that can safely provide pain relief, there is a wide range of treatments that can help ease your pain.

Stop living life on the sidelines. Just because you may be suffering from pain caused by VCFs doesn’t mean you have to modify your life to appease your pain symptoms. If you’re struggling with vertebral compression fractures, read on to discover the many treatment options available to help reduce your pain and live a normal, healthy life.

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What are Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) occur when the vertebrae of your spinal column weaken, resulting in hairline fractures that eventually cause the vertebral body of the spine to collapse. This collapse inevitably causes intense pain and has the potential to cause deformity and loss of height.

Vertebral compression fractures are common among people who suffer from severe osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become brittle and fragile, thus causing your bones to be vulnerable to weakness and fractures.

Depending on how severe your osteoporosis is can increase your likelihood of developing a vertebral compression fracture. In severe cases of osteoporosis, VCFs are relatively easy to develop from everyday wear and tear (i.e. lifting, stepping up stairs, etc.). Meanwhile, moderate causes take more force such as falling to cause fractures to occur.

Predominantly women develop VCF, especially in older age; however, men can also suffer from VCFs. While VCFs are the most common type of fracture in osteoporosis patients, fortunately, several effective treatment methods can be used to treat this condition.

A doctor review patient records after a failed back surgery

How to Prevent Vertebral Compression Fractures

Prevention is the first line of defense to stop the chance of developing VCFs. While it is impossible to eliminate your risk of developing VCFs, the below will help reduce your risk of developing compression fractures:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet filled with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D to build strong bones.
  • Quit using tobacco products as these can weaken your bones.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your provider and take medications to slow down the bone loss process if you’re at a heightened risk of developing osteoporosis.

While the above can help lower your risk of developing VCFs, there is no way of eliminating the possibility.  In the event you develop a vertebral compression fracture, various vertebral compression fracture therapies are available to help ease your pain.

There are a variety of non-surgical options from vertebral compression fracture medication that can be given to exercises for vertebral compression fracture and more to both minimize pain and strengthen your bones.  If nonsurgical treatment options do not work, your doctor may recommend surgical options.

Overall, the compression fracture healing time will vary on a patient-by-patient basis. Most pain caused by compression fractures can take up to 3 months to heal naturally. However, as discussed above, various nonsurgical and minimally invasive treatment options are available as pain relievers.

Vertebral fracture due to osteoporosis of the spine - 3d rendering
Vertebral fracture due to osteoporosis of the spine — 3d rendering

9 Treatment Options for Vertebral Compression Fractures

As soon as you notice severe back pain that doesn’t go away after a couple of days, consider seeing your provider. Your provider will conduct a complete evaluation and may diagnose you with a vertebral compression fracture.

If you are diagnosed with VCFs, your doctor will work with you to devise a comprehensive treatment plan to effectively treat your condition. Depending on your unique situation, your doctor will likely start with nonsurgical pain management treatment methods to reduce your pain. If these treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment options to better manage your pain.

Here are the top 9 treatment options for vertebral compression fractures your doctor may recommend.

1.   Medication (Pain Relief & Bone Strengthening)

There are various pain medications you can take to both relieve your back pain and strengthen your bone density. For pain relief medications, your doctor may suggest taking over-the-counter medications (NSAIDs) or they might prescribe muscle relaxers and/or prescription drugs so you can better tolerate the pain.

Meanwhile, medications like ibandronic acid (Boniva) and alendronic acid (Fosamax) can help slow down your bone loss and prevent further damage.

2.   Back Bracing

Back bracing is another treatment option that can help provide additional support to your fractured vertebrae, while also serving as a way to limit motion and prevent further damage, and reduce pain.

3.   Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty

Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures that are performed to help relieve pain, stabilize your bones, and overall improve your function and movement. Oftentimes, minimally invasive procedures like these will be performed after trying other non-surgical treatment options.

Vertebroplasty takes about 1 to 2 hours and often is an outpatient procedure. During treatment,  your doctor will insert a small needle containing acrylic bone cement into the specific locations where the collapsed vertebra is.  Meanwhile, kyphoplasty involves inserting an inflatable device at the treatment area that will help guide the cement to the collapsed vertebra. 

4.   Lifestyle Changes

Another non-surgical treatment option to reduce pain in the short term is your doctor may recommend you go on bed rest. While bed rest is not a long-term solution and can potentially worsen your osteoporosis, it may be a good option for those suffering from intense acute pain for a few days.

Your doctor may also recommend exercise programs for vertebral compression fractures to help regain strength while minimizing your pain.

5.   Injection Therapy

Injection therapies are another minimally invasive treatment option that can be used to help treat your back pain caused by VCFs. There are a wide variety of injection therapies that can be used to alleviate your pain such as epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, and radiofrequency ablation.

Read on to learn more about how each of these injection therapies can help provide pain relief from vertebral compression fractures.

6.   Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that involves using radiofrequency energy to prevent specific affected nerves from sending pain signals to your brain. Your provider will insert a needle into your spinal cord nerves region, and once placed, the needle will deliver a mild electric current.

RFA can be an effective treatment option for VCF patients who suffer from severe back pain that doesn’t seem to get better with nonsurgical treatment options. This is because RFA oftentimes provides long-term pain relief to patients as their bones naturally heal with time.

7.   Trigger Point Injection

Trigger point injections (TPI) involve administering targeted medication to trigger points of the body causing pain. Trigger point injections not only help with pain relief but can help relax your muscles to feel more comfortable.

The treatment itself takes about 15 minutes and involves the medication being delivered directly to the trigger point to provide immediate pain relief.

8.   Epidural Steroid Injection

Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are injections that use anti-inflammatory steroids directly to the spinal nerves causing pain from your compression fractures. These injections then help relieve pain by preventing significant pain signals from reaching your brain. The procedure itself takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and immediate pain relief may be felt, with full effects kicking in within a few weeks post-treatment.

9.   Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure that involves a small device called a spinal cord stimulator that is surgically inserted into your spine. From there, the device will deliver electrical impulses that will help mask the pain signals that your brain receives as a result of your compression fractures.

Patients who undergo this treatment are then provided a remote control which when used can deliver signals to the device attached to your spine to send those electrical impulses to better manage your pain.

Start Your Pain Recovery Journey Today

A vertebral compression fracture can cause severe back pain which can greatly reduce your quality of life. Rather than just tolerating your pain, the above 9 treatment options each provide an effective way to treat your pain caused by a vertebral compression fracture.

At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of advanced pain specialists is here to provide you with customized, comprehensive care essential to combat your greatest pain concerns. We offer the best pain medicine for compression fractures so you can get back to living your life without worrying about tolerating your pain symptoms.

If you’re struggling with back pain caused by VCFs, schedule an appointment with us today to discuss the many treatment options we offer to effectively relieve your pain.

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