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Geriatrics. 1994 Feb;49(2):22-6.

Vertebral compression fractures: how to manage pain, avoid disability.

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Department of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City.


About 25% of U.S. women over age 50 will suffer one or more vertebral compression fractures related to osteoporosis. Vertebral fractures may be biconcave, anterior wedge, or crush deformities. A fracture is most often precipitated by putting a load on outstretched arms (eg, while raising a window). Back pain is usually incapacitating for a few weeks, then diminishes in severity but remains intense for 2 to 3 months. Acute complications include transient ileus, urinary retention, or (rarely) cord compression. Long-term effects include kyphosis, deconditioning, insomnia, and depression. Initial treatment includes bed rest, pain management with local and systemic analgesia, bracing to improve comfort, and patient reassurance. Long-term management includes spinal stretching exercises, walking, and treatment of underlying osteoporosis with calcitonin or estrogen in selected patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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