What Is a Compression Fracture of the Spine? The vertebrae (or "vertebral bodies") are the bones that form the spinal column. A compression fracture of the spine describes a collapse of one or more of these bones. How Do Compression Fractures of the Spine Happen? Anyone can get a compression fracture of the spine from a serious fall or car accident. People with weakened bones can get them from a minor fall or without any trauma at all. Medical problems that cause weakened bones include osteoporosis and osteogenesis imperfecta. What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Compression Fracture of the Spine? Someone with a compression fracture of the spine may have pain that happens right after an injury. Or they might notice back pain that seems to start without a known cause, but doesn't go away. Sometimes people with a compression fracture of the spine do not have any pain at all. Over time, a compression fracture can lead to loss of height and curving of the spine. How Are Compression Fractures of the Spine Diagnosed? To diagnose a compression fracture, health care providers talk to patients about their symptoms, do a physical exam, and get X-rays. Sometimes other imaging tests, like a CT scan or MRI, are done to get more information about the fracture and the areas around it. A bone density test may be done to learn more about the strength of the bones. How Are Compression Fractures of the Spine Treated? Treatment for a compression fracture of the spine depends on how severe it is and if there are other medical problems. Treatments may include: rest a back brace pain medicine physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the spine medicines, if there is a health problem causing weak bones surgery When Should I Call the Doctor? Call your health care provider right away if your child has: severe back pain that does not go away after taking pain medicines loss of feeling or "pins and needles" in the legs or feet trouble controlling his or her bladder or bowels Looking Ahead How a child heals from a compression fracture depends on how severe it is and what caused it. Help your child get the best result by going to all follow-up doctor visits, giving medicines as directed, and following instructions about which activities are OK and which to avoid. Back to Articles Related Articles Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease) Osteogenesis imperfecta (or brittle bone disease) prevents the body from building strong bones. People with OI have bones that might break easily. Read More Bones, Muscles, and Joints Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn't stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement. Read More Broken Bones Many kids will have a broken bone at some point. Here's what to expect. Read More Cervical Kyphosis Cervical kyphosis is a curve at the top of the spine (backbone). Usually, the condition isn't serious, but a pinch in the spinal cord can cause nerve damage. Read More Physical Therapy Physical therapy helps people get back to full strength and movement - and manage pain - in key parts of the body after an illness or injury. Read More Physical Therapy Doctors often recommend physical therapy for kids who have been injured or have movement problems from an illness, disease, or disability. Learn more about PT. Read More Spondylolisthesis Spondylolisthesis happens when a bone in the back slips forward and out of place. In kids and teens, it’s a common cause of lower back pain. Read More Spondylolysis Spondylolysis is a very common cause of lower back pain in kids, teens, and young adults. It usually heals quickly with rest and other nonsurgical treatments. Read More Scoliosis: Bracing Some teens with scoliosis wear a brace to help stop their curve from getting worse as they grow. Find out more about how scoliosis braces work and how long people wear them in this article for teens. Read More Scoliosis: Bracing Some kids with scoliosis wear a brace to help stop their curve from getting worse as they grow. Find out more about the different types of scoliosis braces. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.