Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ


My 80-year old mother has two vertebral compression fractures. She refuses to have a vertebroplasty to repair the problem despite the pain. The doctor has warned her this decision could lead to worse problems. What else could happen?


There are many problems reported in medical studies from unrepaired vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). Let's start with the first, most common problem--pain. Not everyone has pain with VCFs but most people do. Pain disrupts sleep, decreases function, and is linked with depression.

If the bone collapses, spinal deformity can occur. The result may be a loss of the normal spinal curvatures. The spine starts to curve forward called kyphosis. The patient becomes bent forward. This position reduces the chest and abdominal cavities where the vital organs are located.

The stomach, intestines, lungs, and heart can't function at their best when they are compressed. Pneumonia, constipation, loss of appetite, and reduced cardiac output are just a few problems that can occur. Some of these problems can cause death.

Mohammad E. Majd, MD, et al. Preliminary Outcomes and Efficacy of the First 360 Consecutive Kyphoplasties for the Treatment of Painful Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures. In The Spine Journal. May/June 2005. Vol. 5. No. 3. Pp. 244-255.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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