Surgery is necessary for an L1 vertebral fracture if the spine is in danger of becoming unstable, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, this is rare. L1 vertebral fractures are often compression fractures and are most often treated with bracing, rest and a lessening of activity.
Pain medications are also prescribed for L1 fractures, states the University of Maryland Medical Center, but do not contribute to the healing of the fracture. They ease the pain while the fracture heals.
Doctors recommend that a patient with an L1 fracture limit his activities and gets lots of rest, claims the University of Maryland Medical Center. Rest is especially needed if the patient is elderly. The patient must avoid lifting heavy objects or doing anything else that puts stress on the lower back. The doctor might also prescribe a back brace or an orthosis. This type of brace keeps the patient from bending forward and ensures that the back is held straight to encourage healing. An L1 vertebral fracture should heal in about three months if cared for properly. The doctor monitors the fracture through regular X-rays.
If surgery is necessary, the surgeon often uses an anterior approach, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. This means he operates on the vertebra from the front, which necessitates an incision in the patient's chest.