- Talking to Your Doctor
- Common Questions
- Spinal Fracture Resources
Symptoms of Spinal Fracture
An occasional backache usually isn’t cause for alarm. But, if you’re over 50 and at risk for bone loss, your "backache" could be a spinal fracture (also known as a "vertebral compression fracture" or VCF).
What Does a Spinal Fracture Feel Like?
Pain from a spinal fracture can be mild or severe. The pain may be spread out, or limited to the area where the fracture occurred. When a spinal fracture results from the bone slowly collapsing over time, the pain can develop gradually.
When Should I Ask My Doctor to Check for Spinal Fracture?
Most spinal fractures are never diagnosed because patients and their doctors often consider back pain a normal part of aging. Many people who have had multiple spinal fractures are unaware of their condition.
Consider asking your doctor to check for spinal fracture if you:
- Have sudden back pain
- Have chronic back pain, with no other explanation
- Have noticed a change in your posture
- Have lost height
Only your doctor can confirm whether you have a spinal fracture, but if you feel any new pain along your spine that doesn’t improve in two or three days, it may be a signal that something is wrong. Err on the side of caution and talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Spinal Fracture?
When multiple spinal fractures have occurred, the collapsed vertebrae cause the spine to shorten and angle forward, resulting in kyphosis—also called a "dowagers hump" or "hunchback" posture. This change in posture can affect the muscles around the spine. Other back muscles are forced to work harder to compensate, which contributes to chronic muscle fatigue, pain, and other long-term consequences.