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Back compression fracture from winter sports [Gangnam Nanoori Hospital]
In winter, there are more musculoskeletal injuries due to falls than in other seasons, and when you enjoy leisure activities such as skiing and boarding, you often experience falls and collisions. As the weather gets colder, the roads become icy and slippery, because the body and muscles become stiff and shrink, and their flexibility decreases, making them more prone to falls than usual. The problem is that even a small fall can lead to serious injuries in winter. In particular, in the case of the elderly, who have low bone density due to aging, a fall accident in winter can lead to spinal compression fractures, so more attention is needed. Find out more about spinal compression fractures with Nanoori Spine Surgery (neurosurgery) specialists.
What is a Spine compression fracture?
Since the spine supports most of the body weight, it is always bearing a lot of load. Therefore, the cartilage of the spine acts as a shock absorber and protects the spine so that it can withstand the weight. However, when the spine receives a strong shock that it is difficult to withstand, it breaks down and leads to fractures. Spinal compression fractures are literally fractures of the spine due to compression," he said, "generally, it occurs most frequently in T12 (12th thoracic vertebrae). "It can also be caused by maintaining bad posture for a long time and constantly putting pressure on the spine." Spinal compression fracture is a disease in which a fracture occurs in the spine, so it is difficult to confirm with the naked eye. Other fractures can be confirmed with the naked eye or by physical examination, but spinal compression fractures require imaging confirmation. Nanoori Spinal Surgery (Neurosurgery) Vice President Lee Joon-hyeong (Gangnam Nanoori Hospital) said, "Reading the radiologic images by the spine specialist is essential for spinal compression fractures. In particular, incomplete or central fractures can be judged only with images."
Who is at risk for Spinal compression fractures?
Spinal compression fractures occur more frequently with age. This is because bone density is low due to aging. In fact, according to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of elderly people in their 70s and older who visited the hospital with a lumbar fracture, a representative symptom of spinal compression fractures in 2020, was 47,708. Compared to 11,589 lumbar fracture patients in their 50s and 2,239 lumbar fracture patients in their 30s, this is a very large number. “Spinal compression fractures often occur in the elderly and osteoporotic patients with low bone density,” he said. In addition, people who are underweight or have a history of fractures are also at risk of Spinal compression fractures. "Middle-aged women also belong to a high-risk group. This is because as menopause passes, the secretion of estrogen, the female hormone responsible for bone health, decreases and bone density decreases," he said. Smokers and drinkers are also at risk of spinal compression fractures. Smoking and drinking reduce calcium levels in the body, lowering bone density.
What are the symptoms and treatment of spinal compression fractures?
When a Spinal compression fracture occurs, the pain in the back and lower back, which is the fracture site, is so severe that it is impossible to move. Also, when you lie down and get up, the pain gets worse when you turn around and spreads to the whole body, such as the chest and lower abdomen. The body also gradually bends forward, and if the front part of the spine collapses, the height of the spine may change or deform, resulting in a decrease in height and a curved back. Therefore, if a spinal compression fracture is suspected, treatment should be urgent. Treatment varies according to severity. If the fracture is minor, the brace can be worn for 3 to 4 months to control the pain. However, if the extent of the fracture is severe, vertebroplasty should be performed. Vertebroplasty is a procedure in which cement is injected into the fractured area to stabilize it. It is necessary when the pressure on the spine becomes stronger due to a fracture or when the patient is in a high-risk group. It can be uncomfortable to inject the cement that you only see at construction sites into your body. “The cement used in vertebroplasty is medical bone cement, not general cement, and serves to fill the compressed fracture site using a tube,” he said. In general, it takes at least 6 weeks for the fracture site to harden. However, when bone cement is injected through vertebroplasty, it hardens immediately and the fracture site becomes hard. If the procedure goes well, you can move the next day," he said. However, the pain may still remain. Therefore, even if you can move, it is better not to exercise too drastically. In addition, if possible, the patient's own It is advisable to visit the hospital regularly to keep an eye on your condition.
Gangnam Nanoori Hospital Spine Surgery (Neurosurgery) Specialist Junhyung Lee