Coordinated Health

Winter Sports Injuries – Compression Fractures

By: Hannah Ropp   February 15, 2018

Even though we’ve had some warmer weather, winter’s not over yet and that means there’s still a chance of snow and ice. Coordinated Health Spine Surgeon says he sees quite a few back injuries that are the result of a slip or fall due to winter weather. 

“A patient has an incidental fall while performing a routine activity of daily living such as walking through a parking lot or going to get their mail. They end up having acute back pain unlike any other pain they’ve felt before which brings them to the emergency room or their primary doctor. Imaging studies reveal a compression fracture in their low or mid back,” says Coordinated Health orthopedic surgeon Christopher Wagener, MD.

Dr. Wagener explains, “The general shape of the vertebrae is square. When a compression fracture occurs, the bone attains a more wedged shape. The height of the bone is diminished.”

(Multiple vertebrae affected by this condition is what leads to the shortening or hunched-shape of the spine)

People with osteoporosis – typically women over the age of 60 — are the most at risk of this type of injury. But anyone who’s had any sort of trauma and is experiencing incapacitating back pain should see either their primary doctor, or a doctor in Coordinated Health’s Spine Center.

“The issue concerning compression fractures is that it can be very painful. It can hurt a lot.,” says Dr. Wagener. 

Treatment could be a simple as a brace, or as involved as a kyphoplasty.

“A kyphoplasty is a simple minimally invasive procedure. A catheter is inserted into the vertebrae using an X-ray. A balloon is inflated in the bone to try and restore its height followed by the injection of a special bone cement to stabilize the fracture. In experienced hands, it only takes a few minutes,” explains Dr. Wagener.


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