Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) include a wide range of vertebral deformations of cancellous and cortical bone. (See Figure 1)
• Wedge fractures – collapse of the anterior or posterior of the vertebral body
• Biconcave fractures – collapse of the central portion of both vertebral body endplates
• Crush fractures – collapse of entire vertebral body
These fractures occur as a result of regular day-to-day activities, such as bending forward, lifting objects and climbing stairs. Unlike other osteoporotic fractures, falls play a very minor role. In fact, fractures can occur spontaneously as the result of something as seemingly benign as coughing.
Wedge fractures are the most common fractures and occur most frequently at the midthoracic and thoracolumbar regions in both men and women. Crush fractures also have a higher tendency to occur in the midthoracic and thoracolumbar regions. Unlike other types of fractures, biconcave fractures are equally as likely to occur in lower lumbar vertebrae as at other spinal locations.
VCFs impact patients, their families and society through hospitalization, costs of illness and decreased quality of life.
VCFs have physical, psychological and social consequences and are associated with increased mortality. The physical consequences of VCFs include back pain, spinal deformity, decreased lung capacity and pulmonary function, impaired physical function, sleeping problems, and loss of appetite. Observed psychological consequences include anxiety, depression, loss of self-esteem, frustration and feeling of defeat.
For additional information about Vertebral Compression Fractures:
Web MD: Vertebral Compression Fractures - http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/vertebral-compression-fracture
AAFP: Vertebral Compression Fracture in the Elderly - http://www.aafp.org/afp