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What tests might a doctor prescribe to diagnose a spinal compression?

ANSWER

You may get tests such as:

  • A spinal X-ray to determine whether a vertebra has collapsed
  • A CT scan to provide detail of the fractured bone and the nerves around it
  • An MRI scan to show greater detail of nerves and nearby discs

A spinal compression fracture may be seen on a bone density exam (DEXA) if an additional test called a vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) is done at the same time.

Also, rarely a bone biopsy may be done in a small percentage of people who have compression fractures to determine if the fracture is caused by cancer.

SOURCES: 

Michael Schaufele, MD, physiatrist and professor of orthopaedics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta. 

Rex Marco, MD, chief of spine surgery and musculoskeletal oncology, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. 

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Reviewed by David Zelman on February 8, 2020

SOURCES: 

Michael Schaufele, MD, physiatrist and professor of orthopaedics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta. 

Rex Marco, MD, chief of spine surgery and musculoskeletal oncology, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. 

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Reviewed by David Zelman on February 8, 2020

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How can I prevent future spinal compression fractures?

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