Vertebral Body Compression Fracture
The vertebral column is the bony structure in the back formed from several vertebrae. The vertebral body is the largest part of the vertebra and appears cylindrical in shape. It is the weight-supporting central portion of each vertebra. Excessive compressive forces, or normal compressive forces upon a weakened vertebral body, can lead to fracture. This is commonly seen in older patients and may be associated with osteoporosis, or thinning of the bone tissue over time. Patients may report back pain and tenderness over the area of fracture. Workup can include an x-ray or CT of the back that may show a wedge-shaped narrowing of the vertebral body. Management often includes conservative therapy with rest and pain control. Patients who experience persistent pain may be candidates for vertebral augmentation therapy known as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty where an acrylic cement is injected into the collapsed vertebra to stabilize and strengthen the vertebral body.