Physical Therapy for Lumbar Compression Fractures

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Compression fractures of the spine are a painful injury that can happen to people who have porous bones from osteoporosis, bone cancer or who get into a car accident. In particular, the lumbar region is one of the most common places to get a compression fracture, because of its location. Lumbar bones are located in the lower back, around the pelvic region. Because they are near the bottom of the spinal column, they bear the weight of the head and remainder of the back, which is often all you need to begin to crack under the constant weight of your own body over time. In many cases, fracture lines can leave you mobile, but walking can be extremely painful and can complicate your injury with too much continued stress. In many cases, rest, bracing and physical therapy can give the spinal fractures enough of a break to help it heal on its own. Physical therapy is a great way to help to better understand how to work with posture, core strength, flexibility and range of motion to avoid future compression injuries.

Ultrasound Treatment
One of the best tools that a physical therapist has to help treat these fractures is ultrasound. This tool is well-known as a visual aid, and is a main diagnostic tool for things like pregnancy. However, the vibrations that an ultrasound machine use can also be used to reduce inflammation and speed healing. It is this form of ultrasound that can be used around a spinal compression fracture to increase blood flow to the area and reduce swelling.

Heat and massage around the region can keep muscles flexible and free from knots and fascia buildup. When it comes to back injury, it is important to work with a massage therapist who is trained in dealing with patients of spinal injury, as there are certain precautions that must be taken to keep from injuring you further. Massage, like ultrasound, can help to speed healing by increasing blood flow to the area and helping you to improve your posture by eliminating constrictions around the back.

Core Strengthening
One of the main exercise regimes that a physical therapist will give you to help prevent additional lumbar compression fractures is core strengthening. The sedentary life and constant sitting position of many jobs today can weaken abdominal muscles and put more structural pressure on the back. Properly strengthened abs can pull a lot of the weight load off of the back and improve your posture. This will also make your healing period less painful, as the stress of weight on your cracked vertebra is reduced. In conjunction with the improved posture that your back brace can provide, a strong core is one of the best preventative ways to deal with vertebral stress.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Physical Therapy for Lumbar Compression Fractures," in, January 9, 2016, (accessed August 12, 2022).