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What does a "decreased height of L1 vertebral body" mean in relation to a fracture?

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Quick Answer

"Decreased height of L1 vertebral body" means that a compression fracture has caused reduced height of the first lumbar vertebra, according to American Family Physician. Compression fractures are a hallmark of osteoporosis, and more common in women of postmenopausal age.

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Full Answer

Compression fractures can occur anywhere in the spine, however they usually occur in the low back, states American Family Physician. Vertebral compression fractures can cause pain, emotional symptoms and impaired mobility. Compression fractures are seen in 25 percent of postmenopausal women, and the incidence increases to 40 percent of women 80 years and older.

In addition to age and female gender, risk factors include Caucasian race, susceptibility to falling and history of fractures, states American Family Physician. Modifiable risk factors include alcohol and tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and vitamin-D deficiency. Obesity is protective against compression fractures.

Fractures occur when the weight of the upper body is greater than the ability of the bone to support the load. Healthy spines may experience compression fractures from severe trauma, but minor activities can cause fractures in cases of severe osteoporosis. These activities may be sneezing, getting into the bath tub, or simply contracting a muscle, according to American Family Physician.

Treatment for compression fractures varies according to the bone's stability. Compression fractures are normally stable. Treatment entails brief bed rest, pain medication and physical activity. If the fracture causes severe pain, the vertebra may be surgically mended, states American Family Physician.

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