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Spinal Compression Fracture Specialists in New York City

Spinal compression fractures, also called vertebral compression fractures, are caused by a buildup of tiny cracks in the bone that eventually cause the vertebrae to collapse. While healthy bones can normally support quite a bit of pressure, vertebrae that become soft or weakened by osteoporosis or a tumor can fracture very easily, even from mild trauma or injury.

Compression fractures of the spine usually occur in the lower region of the spine, but they may also occur in the middle spine at chest level. These fractures can be very painful and disabling, and they can cause a lack of stability that increases the risk of damage to the nerves or spinal cord. Severe compression fractures can even affect heart and lung function.

doctor showing patient an x-ray of the spine

Types of Spinal Compression Fractures

Spinal fractures due to osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) are commonly called compression fractures, but may also be referred to as osteoporotic fractures, vertebral fractures, or wedge fractures; the term wedge fracture describes a common situation in which the front portion of the vertebra collapses, while the back remains unchanged; this creates a wedge pattern.

Wedge fractures are the most common type of compression fracture. Additional types include:

  • Crush fractures, which occur when the entire bone breaks, rather than just the front portion of the vertebra.
  • Burst fractures, in which a loss of height in both the front and back walls of the vertebral body occurs; this type of fracture can be unstable and result in deformity and/or neurologic problems.
woman smiling in kayak


Causes of Spinal Compression Fractures

  • Osteoporosis: This is the most frequent cause of stress fractures. Osteoporosis causes bones to lose their density and become very brittle, which makes them especially vulnerable to fractures; osteoporosis occurs mostly in females over age 50.
  • Trauma: Even small slips and falls can cause a spinal compression fracture in someone with severely weakened bones.
  • Disease: Bone tumors, such as those that occur with metastatic cancer and multiple myeloma, can weaken the bones and cause spinal stress fractures. The growth of spinal tumors can place pressure on the vertebrae and cause these fractures as well.

The Center for Comprehensive Spine Care

Och Spine at NewYork-Presbyterian at the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care employs some of the most sought-after vertebral compression fracture doctors in New York City. Our specialists take a multi-disciplinary, patient-centered approach to care. Read more about our physicians here.

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For more information about our treatment options, contact our office today.