Understanding the Basics Behind Compression Fractures
What are Compression Fractures?
When vertebrae— the bones of your spine — weaken, they become more prone to breaking.
Compression fractures occur when too much pressure weighs on the vertebrae, causing part or all of the vertebrae to crack and collapse. Common symptoms of a compression fracture include back pain, lost height, or a hunched posture.
Leaders in the field, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physicians specialize in compression fracture treatment. With over 100 years of combined experience, we strive to help each patient repair fractures, regain mobility, and reduce pain.
Your First Appointment
Initially, you may notice some pain from a compression fracture, but some patients don’t seek treatment until the pain worsens over time. Whenever pain becomes severe, limits your mobility, or causes you to have trouble sleeping, it’s best to visit a Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physician.
During your initial visit, we will ask you to fill out paperwork detailing the injury. You should also bring any X-rays or diagnostic tests you’ve had performed prior to coming to Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance for treatment. Lastly, we’ll require proof or insurance or form of payment for the provision of the services rendered.
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance pain Assessment
Assessing the Injury
During your appointment, you will sit with your Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physician of choice to discuss your fracture, pain levels, exacerbating factors that increase or decrease pain, previous treatments, and more.
From there, your provider will perform a physical exam and other necessary diagnostic studies. With your test results, your fracture specialists can build a treatment plan to repair your broken bone(s).
Therefore, during your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
- Does your pain currently limit you or your activities?
- Has your pain progressed or worsened recently?
- Have you noticed any change in your symptoms that have made it more challenging to function?
- What are your lifestyle goals?
- How has pain affected those goals?
From there, we can decide whether more conservative treatments will suffice or whether you would find the most benefit with surgery.
Your physician will utilize diagnostic tests to determine the severity of your fracture. Commonly, you may have to undergo X-ray exams to diagnose the condition.
Testing options may include:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to test for damage to soft tissue around the fracture such as disks and nerves.
Bone scans to catch bone abnormalities that could also determine whether you have an acute or chronic fracture.
Bone density testing to monitor the severity of the underlying osteoporosis, if present.
Typically, repeat X-ray images are necessary throughout treatment to ensure proper healing. In more severe or less straightforward cases, additional technology like ultrasound or CT scans are necessary to ensure a proper recovery path is outlined.
Establishing a Care Plan
Based on the results of your examinations and symptoms, you can expect a custom care plan catered specifically to you. From there we outline treatment options for your fracture and results to expect.
During your first appointment and follow-up appointments, our physicians typically recommend conservative measures before turning to surgery. As a result, you don’t have to worry about us pushing a surgical procedure, especially when other treatment options could help. This is part of our dedication to bringing value to our patients as the largest orthopedic practice in Kansas City.
How It Works
Prior to surgery, you will typically receive at least two phone calls:
- A hospital registration representative will call to gather insurance and other personal information.
- A registered nurse will call to review your health history and medication information.
Dependent on your health history, your physician may require:
- Pre-surgical laboratory tests
- Primary care clearance
Pre-operative instructions will vary depending on your physician and the location of your surgery.
Always check with your physician prior to surgery for his or her specific instructions.
Most physicians require that patients do not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery.
Additionally, you will need to designate a family member or friend to drive you home on the day you are released from the hospital. Surgical patients cannot drive themselves home.
Day of Surgery
If you schedule your surgery at KCOI, you can expect the following on surgery day:
- A receptionist will check you in on the second floor at the hospital registration desk.
- A nurse will take you back and prepare you for surgery. He or she will start an IV, prepare the surgical site, and review your medical history and medications.
- Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit with you prior to your operation.
- The surgical team will take you to the operation suite for surgery.
What to Expect
If conservative measures fail, then surgical intervention may be the best alternative solution. Advances in modern technology have made compression fracture surgeries less invasive without compromising quality care.
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance offers osteoplasty procedures aimed to stabilize compression fractures for pain management—vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
Your surgery will be slightly different based on whether you receive a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. Both surgeries are typically performed using IV sedation and last around 30 minutes.
During a vertebroplasty, your surgeon will insert a biopsy needle, called a trocar, through the fractured bone rather than creating a large incision.
From there, an acrylic bone cement is injected into the damaged vertebrae to essentially “glue” the fractured pieces together. Since the cement hardens quickly, the vertebrae fragments also congeal quickly to stabilize the spine.
Kyphoplasty procedures work similarly, except the technique requires a balloon.
Using the trocar, your surgeon places and inflates the balloon through the fractured bone.
This often causes the fracture to open to its normal height.
Once your surgeon deflates and removes the balloon, he or she will use the same cementation process to fill in the bone.
Once surgery is complete, you can expect:
- Our team will help you to the post-anesthesia area. A nurse will monitor your vital signs and assess your pain level.
- Once the nurse has determined you are stable and alert, we will transfer you to a speciality patient room where you can begin your recovery.
Since surgical compression fracture treatment is often outpatient, once you are cleared, you are free to finish the recovery process in the comfort of your own home.
Directly following your procedure, you will likely still experience back pain from the needle.
After several hours, that spine pain should resolve.
Most patients return to their normal life without too many restrictions after recovering from surgery.
However, you may have to wait several weeks before you can participate in more strenuous activities such as weight lifting or sports.
How It Works
Ongoing Treatment & Continued Care
If you also have an osteoporosis diagnosis, we may recommend ongoing treatment and lifestyle changes to promote bone and spine health. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for osteoporosis. Medications may help slow the breakdown of bone or have the potential to rebuild bone.
Compression fracture symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Decreased height
- Stooped posture
- Numbness or tingling
- Issues walking
- Decreased range of motion
Causes of Compression Fractures
While compression fractures can result from injuries or even tumors, most commonly they derive from osteoporosis-induced bone weakness.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease marked by loss of tissue and density, which causes bones to become brittle and weak. Since bones are living tissues, they constantly break down and replace themselves. However, people with osteoporosis have a higher rate of bone loss than bone growth, making them more susceptible to fractures.
Often, bone loss occurs progressively and without symptoms, so many times people don’t realize they have this “silent disease” until symptoms arise or a fracture occurs. A person may develop a compression fracture after an injury such as a fall, but with osteoporosis, a weakened vertebrae could break from daily activities.
Oftentimes, compression fractures resolve on their own within a few months. Based on your needs, your physician may recommend rest, medications, physical therapy, or bracing to promote healing. If your compression fracture stems from osteoporosis, non-surgical solutions such as exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes can help manage bone degradation.
Weight-bearing exercises can improve strength and balance, lessening the chances of falls and greatly reducing the risk of injury.
Make smart food choices, with healthy amounts of protein, and get the recommended calcium and vitamin D.
Don’t smoke, and only drink alcohol in moderation.
Frequently Asked Questions
About Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance
Meet Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance
Our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians and surgeons are highly experienced in their respective fields and are considered among the top orthopedic providers in the Midwest.
Along with our Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and support staff, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physicians deliver the utmost level of dedicated care across a range of subspecialties.
You Deserve the Best Compression Fracture Treatment in Kansas City.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
Overland Park, Kansas10777 Nall Ave Suite 300 Overland Park, KS 66211
Leawood, Kansas3651 College Blvd. Leawood, KS 66211
Kansas City, MissouriSaint Luke's Medical Plaza #1 4320 Wornall Rd., Ste. 610 Kansas City, MO 64111
Belton, MissouriBelton Regional Campus 17067 S Outer Rd #301 Belton, MO 64012
Merriam, Kansas7450 W. Frontage Rd Merriam, KS 66203
Dr. Ting was very thorough
Dr. Ting was very thorough, and communicated my ailment very well.
Staff is great
…just did my husbands hands on Wed. last week and can’t believe how well he is doing. We have already recommended you to our son and a few others. Your staff is great and my husband doing well. Thanks to you.
THANK YOU ALL!
Dr. Mark Winston is the best.
Dr. Mark Winston is the best. He is a caring and attentive physician who made a very painful injury so much easier for me. The staff is very professional and do an awesome job.
This place is amazing! I cannot say enough good things about our experience here! From the reception desk where they were beyond helpful and even made phone calls for me to my kids pediatrician to very short wait time then the patience and help of doctors and staff that were great with my 3 year old! Getting same day service this great was so nice! Love this place and highly recommend!!