Difference Between Wedge and Compression Fracture

Fractures in the spine can significantly impact an individual's quality of life, causing pain, reduced mobility, and even leads to disability.wedge and compression fractures are two important types among the various types of spinal fractures.A wedge fracture results in a wedge-shaped deformity of the vertebra, while a compression fracture involves the general collapse of the vertebra.

Comparative Table: Wedge vs Compression Fractures

Below is the difference between Wedge and Compression Fractures in the tabular format:

Aspect Wedge Fracture Compression Fracture
Fracture Shape Wedge-shaped deformity General vertebral collapse
Location Often in the thoracic spine Can occur anywhere in the spine
Causes Primarily osteoporosis, but also trauma Osteoporosis, trauma, cancer, high-impact events
Symptoms Localized sharp pain, hunched posture, limited mobility Sudden back pain, pain worsens with movement, kyphosis
Risk Factors Osteoporosis, age, trauma Osteoporosis, trauma, cancer, advanced age
Imaging Diagnosis X-rays, MRI, CT scans X-rays, MRI, CT scans
Conservative Treatment Pain management, bracing, physical therapy Pain management, bracing, physical therapy
Surgical Treatment Vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty Vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, spinal fusion, decompression surgery
Prevention Bone density testing, medication, exercise, nutrition, fall prevention Bone density testing, medication, exercise, nutrition, fall prevention

Browse best Scrubs Collection

What is a Compression Fracture?

A compression fracture occurs when one or more vertebrae in the spine break.This can cause the vertebrae to collapse and become shorter, which can lead to bone fragments pressing on the spinal cord and nerves. This can reduce the amount of oxygen and blood that reaches the spinal cord.


  • This type of fracture typically results from a combination of osteoporosis and trauma. Osteoporosis: The most significant risk factor for compression fractures is osteoporosis. As bones become less dense and more brittle, they are more prone to fractures.
  • Trauma: Falls, car accidents, and other high-impact events can cause compression fractures, particularly in individuals with weakened bones.
  • Cancer: Certain cancers, such as multiple myeloma and metastatic disease, can weaken the vertebrae, leading to fractures.
  • Age: The risk of compression fractures increases with age due to the natural decline in bone density.


The symptoms of a compression fracture can vary depending on the severity and location of the fracture. Common symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of back pain, often after a minor injury
  • Pain that worsens with movement or standing and improves with rest
  • Loss of height over time
  • Kyphosis, or a stooped forward posture
  • Limited spinal mobility



What is a Wedge Fracture?

A wedge fracture is a specific type of compression fracture where the front part of a vertebra collapses, creating a wedge-shaped deformity. This type of fracture is most common in the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine. Wedge fractures are also associated with osteoporosis but can also result from traumatic injuries.


The causes and risk factors for wedge fractures are similar to those for other compression fractures. Osteoporosis remains the most significant risk factor, followed by trauma and certain medical conditions. High-energy trauma, such as car accidents or falls from significant heights, can also cause wedge fractures in healthy individuals.

Symptoms of Wedge Fractures

The symptoms of a wedge fracture are similar to those of other compression fractures, but the specific shape of the deformity can lead to additional issues:

  • Sharp, localized back pain
  • Increased pain with sitting or standing
  • Loss of spinal alignment, leading to a hunched or stooped posture
  • Difficulty walking or moving

Shop the Best Lab Coats from Here!

Key Differences Between Compression Fracture and Wedge Fracture

  • Fracture Shape: Wedge fractures create a wedge-shaped deformity, while compression fractures involve general vertebral collapse.
  • Location: Wedge fractures often occur in the thoracic spine, compression fractures can occur anywhere.
  • Causes: Both can result from osteoporosis or trauma, but wedge fractures are more commonly associated with osteoporosis.


Where do wedge fractures most commonly occur?

Wedge fractures most commonly occur in the thoracic (mid-back) region of the spine.

What are common causes of compression fractures?

Common causes of compression fractures include osteoporosis, trauma, cancer, and high-impact events.

What is the primary difference between a wedge fracture and a compression fracture?

A wedge fracture results in a wedge-shaped deformity of the vertebra, while a compression fracture involves the general collapse of the vertebra.

How are wedge and compression fractures diagnosed?

Diagnosis typically involves medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI, and CT scans.

What conservative treatments are available for these fractures?

Conservative treatments include pain management with NSAIDs or acetaminophen, bracing, and physical therapy to strengthen supporting muscles and improve mobility.