PTD0416_SpinalFracturesIf you have lingering back pain that becomes worse with prolonged sitting, you may have a spinal compression fracture. Though this sounds alarming, it is much more common than people realize, affecting approximately 700,000 Americans every year. The good news: In most cases, it can be treated without surgery.

As we age, our bones become less dense and more prone to injury. For many, this leads to osteoporosis, which often is not diagnosed until a bone breaks. While we most often associate osteoporosis with hip or wrist fractures, spinal compression fractures are actually twice as common.

A spinal compression fracture occurs when too much pressure causes a weakened vertebra to crack. Sometimes this is caused by a fall; other times, it can occur in the midst of an everyday action, such as reaching or coughing. The fracture is painful, especially when sitting, and is usually relieved by lying down.

While some people who suffer a compression fracture may need surgery, most people heal in 6 to 8 weeks with some rest and, perhaps, a back brace to limit movement. Too much rest, however, may lead to other problems, including further loss of bone density and muscle mass, and decreases in balance and functional mobility.

A physical therapy regimen, usually consisting of weight-bearing exercises, can help strengthen the back muscles, which will not only help heal your fracture, but also prevent future osteoporosis-related fractures. In addition to weight-bearing exercises, we can work with you to improve your posture, gait, and bending and lifting techniques, so that you can continue to perform daily activities safely and with confidence.

The ideal healing process requires the patient to walk a fine line between rest and activity. If you have been diagnosed with a spinal compression fracture, we will work with you and your physician on an individualized program of rest and activity to help heal your fracture, so that you can resume your activities free of pain, with a minimized risk of reinjury.

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