Compression Fracture of the Spine in Children: Care Instructions

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The spine


When the front part of a bone in the spine breaks and collapses, it is called a compression fracture. A fall or other accident can cause this kind of break.

Treatment will focus on controlling pain. Some children need to wear a brace.

Surgery may be done if the pain does not go away or if the bone presses on the spinal cord or nerves.

Most of these breaks heal in 8 to 10 weeks. After that, your child will probably need physical therapy.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around your child.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your child needs a brace, make sure it's used the way your doctor told you. Your child must wear it until the doctor tells you it is okay to stop.
  • Don't let your child do any physical activities unless your doctor says it is okay.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child is unable to move an arm or a leg at all.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse symptoms in the arms, legs, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Weakness.
    • Pain.
  • Your child loses bladder or bowel control.
  • Your child has belly pain, bloating, vomiting, or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.