One of the most common causes of a fractured vertebra is the disease osteoporosis. In this disease, the bone strength decreases. But bones also generally become weaker with age and break more quickly. Women are much more susceptible than men due to hormones.
What are the symptoms of a vertebral fracture?
Vertebral fractures are extremely painful. Even the smallest movements can irritate the nerves and cause severe pain - regardless of whether the person is at rest, moving or under stress. By adopting a protective posture, the surrounding muscles also tense up and movement restrictions are also possible. If the vertebral fracture affects the spinal cord, motor deficits may also occur.
Diagnosis of vertebral fracture
In an intensive medical examination, the spine specialist assesses the location of the fracture in the spine and analyzes possible complications. For example, if the trailing edge of the vertebral body is fractured, the edge may press into the spinal canal and onto the spinal cord. In this case, the vertebral body must be additionally stabilized with screws before a kyphoplasty is used for surgical treatment.
Therapy for vertebral fractures: When is surgery necessary?
If conservative treatment options using strong painkillers are not effective, surgery is an option. A proven procedure for vertebral fractures is kyphoplasty. The minimally invasive operation leads to immediate freedom from pain and targeted re-erection of the vertebral body.
Using a catheter, the physician places a balloon at the appropriate location in the spine and inflates it with saline to create a cavity. The cavity is filled with bone cement to restore stability to the vertebra. After a few minutes, the cement is hardened. The use of the balloon causes the cement to flow specifically into the vertebral body.
What happens if a vertebra is not treated?
If the fractured vertebral body is not treated, there is a risk that the vertebra will press in and be completely compressed by the pressure from above. If the fractured vertebra presses on the bone marrow, neurological seizures can occur.