Q:

What is an L1 compression fracture?

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An L1 compression fracture occurs when the upper vertebrae of the lumbar spine collapses. According to Spine-Health.com there are more than 700,000 individuals in the United States who experience some type of compression fracture in their spine each year. These fractures lead to the loss of height and deformity of the spine. Fractures are often painful and put additional pressure on the individual's internal organs.

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According to the University of Michigan Health System, osteoporosis is the primary risk factor for compression factors. The disease weakens and thins the bones to the point they become fragile and break. Individuals with diabetes, thyroid issues and certain types of cancer are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis and ultimately for compression fractures.

Managing a compression fracture often requires use of a special brace to immobilize and strengthen the joint and surgery. The brace and narcotics help to reduce the patient's pain. Minimally invasive surgical procedures, including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty help to immobilize the joint. Both procedures involve injecting cement into the joint, but kyphoplasty uses a special balloon to restore the lost height to the patient, according to the University of Michigan.

Medical professionals often misdiagnose L1 compression fractures as muscle strains. According to Spine-Health.com, approximately 2/3 of the compression fractions that occur annually do not receive the correct therapy to help heal the fracture.

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