2 Indications and current treatments

2 Indications and current treatments

2.1 Vertebral compression fractures usually occur when the front of the vertebral body collapses, and may be caused by trauma, cancer or osteoporosis.

2.2 Pain is the most common symptom in patients with vertebral compression fractures. Fractures can also cause progressive spinal deformity with abnormal curvature (kyphosis). This can lead to increased risk of further fracture at adjacent levels and progressive malalignment, deformity and pain.

2.3 Treating vertebral compression fractures aims to reduce pain, improve function and minimise the incidence of new fractures. Non‑invasive treatment (such as pain medication, bed rest, and back braces) focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the spine.

2.4 Surgery such as percutaneous vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty may be considered in patients whose condition is refractory to medical therapy and when there is continued vertebral collapse and severe pain. Sometimes more invasive surgery with vertebral body realignment and instrumented fusion (bone grafts and spinal rods) may be needed.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)