Osteoporosis, the most common metabolic disorder of bone, affects over 10 million people in the United States alone. One of the complications of osteoporosis is osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (OVCF). There are more than half a million cases occurring each year. While OVCFs are twice as common as hip fractures, there are effective treatment options available, including chiropractic care. In this guide, we will explore the role of chiropractic in managing osteoporotic compression fractures and provide insights into its evaluation, management, and potential benefits.

Understanding Osteoporotic Compression Fractures

Osteoporotic compression fractures occur when the load from the top down exceeds its capacity to support the load, typically in combination with flexion. In healthy vertebrae, significant force is required to cause a compression fracture. However, in osteoporotic vertebrae, the balance between osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity is disrupted, resulting in diminished bone density and increased susceptibility to fractures even with minimal loads.

Most OVCFs are stable, with the anterior vertebral body collapsing while the posterior elements remain intact. This characteristic wedge-shaped collapse often leads to an increased thoracic kyphosis. While the most common sites for OVCFs are T6-T8, T11-L1, and L4, the thoracolumbar junction (T10-L2) is particularly vulnerable due to increased stress caused by the transition from the rigid thoracic spine to the more mobile lumbar spine.

Risk Factors and Clinical Presentation

Osteoporosis is a primary risk factor for OVCFs, with gender and age being significant contributors. Women are two to three times more likely to develop OVCFs than men, and the risk increases with age. Post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible, with 25% of all post-menopausal women and 40% of women over 80 experiencing OVCFs.

The clinical presentation of OVCFs varies, with approximately 23-33% of cases being clinically evident. The most common symptom is axial back pain, described as “aching” or “stabbing,” which can range from minimal to disabling. Referred pain to the ribs, hip, groin, or buttocks is also common. Severe OVCFs can lead to complications such as de-conditioning, insomnia, depression, and breathing difficulties due to thoracic kyphosis.

Diagnosis and Evaluation

Clinical evaluation of OVCFs begins with visual inspection and palpation. Increased thoracic kyphosis or loss of lumbar lordosis should raise suspicion for OVCFs in senior populations. Various physical examination tests, such as the Supine Sign and Seated Closed Fist Percussion, can aid in the diagnosis. Imaging studies, including plain radiographs, CT scans, and MRI, are essential for confirming the diagnosis and ruling out more serious underlying pathologies.

Treatment Options

The management of OVCFs can be divided into conservative and surgical approaches. Most OVCFs are stable and can be effectively managed conservatively. Conservative management aims to provide pain relief, improve activities of daily living, and minimize the risk of future fractures. Patients are advised to maintain an active lifestyle, avoid bed rest, and adhere to home exercise programs that focus on improving posture, strength, and endurance. Nutritional recommendations for managing osteoporosis, including adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, are also crucial.

Chiropractic care, provided by trained professionals like Dr. Volz in Ashland, OR, offers a non-invasive and drug-free approach to managing OVCFs. Chiropractors employ various techniques, including spinal manipulation, mobilization, and therapeutic exercises, to address pain, improve spinal function, and enhance overall well-being. These interventions can help alleviate symptoms, restore mobility, and improve the quality of life for patients with OVCFs.

Chiropractic Management of OVCFs

Chiropractic care for OVCFs focuses on relieving pain, restoring spinal alignment, and promoting healing. The treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation, including a detailed medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies. Chiropractors assess the extent of vertebral compression, identify any associated neurological symptoms, and determine the stability of the fracture.

Once the evaluation is complete, chiropractors develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Spinal manipulation, or adjustments, is a key component of chiropractic care for OVCFs. These manual techniques aim to restore proper vertebral alignment, relieve pressure on nerves, and reduce pain. Chiropractors may also employ other modalities such as mobilization, soft tissue therapy, and rehabilitative exercises to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.

Potential Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care offers several potential benefits for patients with OVCFs. By addressing spinal misalignments and restoring proper biomechanics, chiropractic adjustments can alleviate pain, improve spinal function, and enhance overall mobility. Chiropractors also provide guidance on posture, body mechanics, and home exercise programs to help patients maintain optimal spinal health and reduce the risk of future fractures.

Furthermore, chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to patient care, focusing not only on the physical aspects but also on promoting overall well-being. Chiropractors provide education and support to empower patients in managing their condition, making informed lifestyle choices, and optimizing their health.


Osteoporotic compression fractures can significantly impact the quality of life for individuals affected by osteoporosis. Conservative management such as chiropractic care can play a valuable role in the comprehensive treatment of OVCFs. Chiropractors like Dr. Volz in Ashland, OR, can provide effective pain relief, restore spinal function, and improve overall well-being through a combination of spinal manipulation, mobilization, and therapeutic exercises. By addressing the underlying issues and promoting healing, chiropractic care offers a non-invasive and drug-free option for managing OVCFs and helping patients regain their mobility and quality of life.