What is a compression fracture?

When a fracture decreases the height of vertebral bone in the spine by 15% – 20%, it is called a compression fracture. They are more common in the mid-back, called the thoracic spine.

What are different types of compression fractures?

  • A wedge fracture is a mechanically stable fracture with a vertebra moving out of place
  • A crush fracture means the entire bone is broken.
  • A burst fracture may mean the front and back of a vertebra is fractured. The significance of this type of compression fracture is that the bones are unstable and there is an increased risk of damage to the spinal cord with associated neurological deficits.

What causes compression fractures?

The cause of a compression fracture is the result of excessive pressure exerted by a fall, accident or heavy lifting, bypassing the compression tolerance that the bone can sustain. A compression fracture is sometimes called osteoporotic, vertebral or wedge fracture.

When a person has osteoporosis, the compression tolerance of the bone is decreased and the chances of a fracture from little or no trauma are increased.

What are the symptoms of compression fractures?

Compression fractures can heal on their own and the period of recovery can vary from patient to patient based on the extent of the fracture, age, health and other factors. The patient may experience extensive pain gradually improving with time. Some patients may take time before they can walk.

How to manage compression fractures?

Medications, bed rest and back braces are used to reduce pain and movement and allow time for healing, much like a cast.  Surgery may be required to realign the bones in severe cases of fractures. In some surgeries, a procedure called a Vertebroplasty may be utilized; this procedure injects a bone cement to fill the cracked open areas to stabilize and support the spine when the bone cement hardens. If the fracture is more severe and unstable, and there is a risk of damage to the spinal cord, more invasive surgery will be required. Typically, the surgery involves a type of fusion with the use of a metal rod(s) and pedicle screws inserted into the spine to stabilize the injury and protect the spinal cord from damage. The instrumentation is permanent and often results in some permanent loss of flexibility and involves a prolonged recovery.

Most patients are vulnerable to reinjure healed fractures and need care to avoid re-injury. Patients routinely doing heavy lifting or physically demanding activities will have to avoid such activities.

Whether your condition originated from an accident such as a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or other traumatic event,  you may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault party or your disability insurance carrier; in some cases, you may be eligible for CPP disability benefits, if your injury or condition is permanent.

At Horowitz Injury Law, we pay special attention to our clients’ needs; we closely study your insurance policy and the specific facts that have led to your injury. We work with leading experts in the fields of medicine, engineering and forensic accounting and have the resources to maximize the compensation you are entitled to receive under the law. We will always make every effort to resolve your case through negotiations and/or mediation, but if the case requires it, we have the resources and experience to take your case to trial.

Please contact Horowitz Injury Law at 416-925-4100 for a free consultation to review your specific circumstances.