Vertebral body fractures results in compression or collapse of the body of the vertebrae. Causes of this condition occur from direct trauma or this may even be a spontaneous condition as a result of an already weaken vertebrae.
Those that may be subject to weakening of the vertebral body include patients that suffer from osteoporosis, lytic bone lesions from primary tumors or metastases, or an infectious process. It most commonly occurs in the thoracic spine, but can also commonly occur in the lumbar spine or less likely, the cervical spine. Pain can be well localized to the back or it may also radiate to the chest or abdomen in a band-like distribution. The pain is often exacerbated with activity and is relieved with lying down or periods of rest.
The diagnosis of vertebral compression fractures can be made with history and physical examination. Objective findings may include point tenderness of the spine as well as radiological studies. Those tests which aide in the diagnosis include: x-ray, CT scans, or MRI imaging. These tests are important to determine the age of the fracture and guide treatment.