Diagnosis and Management of Vertebral Compression Fracture

Am J Med. 2022 Jul;135(7):815-821. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2022.02.035. Epub 2022 Mar 18.


Vertebral compression fractures are the most common complication of osteoporosis, with 700,000 cases reported every year in the United States. Vertebral compression fractures typically present with abrupt-onset low back pain with or without a history of trauma, although more than two-thirds are detected incidentally. Diagnosis is confirmed using plain radiographs, while computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging may be required to evaluate for a malignant cause or if there are neurological deficits on examination. Magnetic resonance imaging is also the modality of choice to determine if the fracture is acute vs chronic in nature. Patients can be managed with a combination of nonsurgical modalities including medications, bracing, and physical therapy, although when indicated, kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty may be considered to provide symptom relief.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Management; Osteoporosis; Vertebral compression fractures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fractures, Compression* / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Compression* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kyphoplasty* / adverse effects
  • Kyphoplasty* / methods
  • Osteoporosis* / complications
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnosis
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Vertebroplasty* / adverse effects
  • Vertebroplasty* / methods