A spinal fracture is a crack or break in one or more vertebrae, the interlocking bones that make up the spine and surround the spinal cord. Spinal fractures occur when more weight is placed on the vertebrae than the bone is able to support, causing it to crack beneath the pressure.
Though spinal fractures are typically caused by high-impact accidents or collisions, certain underlying health conditions such as osteoporosis can make this type of injury more likely in day-to-day life. Age also plays a role in spinal fracture—bones can become thinner and more brittle—especially true if one has osteoporosis.
Women are at greater risk of osteoporosis, and according to research, by age 80; approximately 40% will have had a spinal fracture. The spinal fractures that are most common in osteoporosis patients are known as vertebral compression fractures. An estimated 750,000 Americans are affected by vertebral compression fractures each year.