Here’s how to protect your spine if you have a compression fracture.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a compression fracture in your spine, it’s important that you take time to learn how to move correctly during your recovery. Although it may seem like a small thing, even something as simple as how you get out of bed in the morning could impact your healing.
Compression fractures can take time to heal, and may require surgery to correct, so it’s crucial to make sure that you are doing everything you can to help your body recover and prevent injury again. Here is more information about compression fractures and tips for how you can get out of bed with a compression fracture safely.
What is a Compression Fracture?
A compression fracture in your spine, officially called a vertebral compression fracture, is a serious injury that happens when part of the vertebrae in your spine collapses. Your vertebrae are what allow you to do everything from stand upright, bend over, and lift objects, so any injury that occurs in your spine can affect your ability to move and cause significant pain.
Compression fractures in the spine can be caused by osteoporosis, especially in women and men as they age, as well as through severe trauma or injury, like a car accident or sudden fall, in younger, healthy individuals. Compression fractures usually occur in the middle, lower part of the spine.
The symptoms of a compression fracture include back pain that gets worse over time (especially with standing), not being able to bend or move like normal, a decrease in height (your vertebrae will compress, making you shorter), stooped posture, trouble walking, and pain or tingling down the legs.
Treatment for Compression Fractures
The treatment for a spinal compression fracture will depend on where exactly the fracture occurs, how severe the injury is, and if you have any other accompanying medical conditions, such as severe osteoporosis or cancer.
In some cases, a compression fracture is treated only through rest and natural healing of the body. If rest is indicated, your doctor may also use additional things to support your healing, such as a back brace, muscle relaxants, and pain medication.
For more severe fractures, or for people who meet the qualifications, surgery, such as a minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion, may also be done to correct the fracture.
Tips for Getting Out of Bed with a Compression Fracture
One of the most important aspects of healing from a compression fracture is preventing re-injury. If you have surgery, you should always follow any instructions given by your surgeon and avoid any lifting or exercise for at least several weeks.
With surgery for a compression fracture, you will not be able to twist or bend your back for as much as 6 weeks following the surgery. That means that you will have to change the way that you do a lot of your normal activities of daily life, such as getting out of bed. Your surgeon may prescribe physical therapy to help you learn the correct and safe way to move throughout your day, so be sure to keep all of your physical therapy appointments and perform the recommended activities and exercises they ask you to do as well.
Anytime you move, remember that the goal is to keep the spine as straight and lengthened as possible, to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the back. It’s important that you always sit up as tall as you can so you don’t put additional pressure on the spine and that you do NOT bend over to get out of bed.
Instead, you should always follow your provider’s recommendations and use the following tips for getting out of bed with a compression fracture:
Keep your body as straight as possible anytime you’re moving in bed.
Prepare to get out of bed by positioning your body as close to the side of the bed as you can.
Push your body up off of the bed with your arms while keeping your back straight, so you come up to a sitting position on the side of your bed.
At the same time, lower your legs over the side of the bed while keeping your back straight.
Continue to lower your legs until your feet hit the floor, while remaining upright.
If you use a walker, keep your chest and head up as you use the walker to stand.
If you don’t use a walker, place a chair next to your bed to help you steady yourself as you stand up.
To get into bed, you’ll again want to try to keep your back as straight as possible, so you will lower yourself onto your side, using your arms for support. When turning, always move your head first, then your shoulders and hips at the same time (think of them as one unit working together) to avoid twisting your back.
How to Prevent a Compression Fracture
Once you have had a compression fracture, you may be more at risk for refracturing the bone again, so it is very important to use proper body mechanics when moving, lifting, or bending to try to prevent injury once you have recovered from the surgery as well.
For more information on whether spinal surgery is necessary for your condition, or to make an appointment with the doctors at NeuroMicroSpine, please call (850) 934-7545 or click here to request an appointment. We hope to see you soon!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.