A compression fracture occurs when the bone collapses, particularly in short bones such as the vertebrae in the spine. Vertebral compression fractures result when the bone tissue of the vertebral body collapses.

Watch: Spinal Compression Fracture Video

The condition is most often caused by osteoporosis and may be caused by trauma to the back, such as a fall or vehicular accident. A compression fracture may cause no symptoms at all, but most typically causes pain in the area of the fracture (e.g. the upper back).

The fracture can affect more than one vertebra and multiple compression fractures can lead to shortened height and kyphosis, a forward curvature of the spine resembling a hump and referred to as dowagers hump. Compression fractures are most common in elderly adults, especially women.

Treatment for a compression fracture is usually non-surgical, but vertebral augmentation surgery is sometimes used.