Sometimes back pain continues. The various stages of healing will take place over several months but the recovery of function and muscle strength can also be a painful process because the shape of the bone (or bones) in your back that have been fractured (broken) or compressed does not return to its previous shape, which will result in a loss of height. The greater the number of broken bones in the spine and the weaker the back muscles, the more rounded the spine may become and the greater the loss of height.
These changes will affect the muscles and other soft tissues around the fracture. As a result there may be long term or chronic back pain. Changes in your posture and rounding of the spine, known as kyphosis, may also affect your balance and the way you walk. The pain of a spine fracture can vary from no pain at all to severe and debilitating pain. Not everyone will have severe problems but for those who do, there are many things that can be done to make life easier. It is important to remember that even small changes to improve how you move, such as those discussed in the previous sections, can help to control some of the pain.
A note about posture. Before you broke a bone in your back, your body may have been able to tolerate some bad posture habits. Now that you have had a spine fracture, you will need to apply new habits such as the neutral spine when standing and sitting and the hip hinge when bending. Your new habits are meant to prevent your spine from rounding and reduce your risk of another broken bone.
The safe postures and movements that were discussed in the sections Positioning in Bed, Standing and Walking, Sitting, Sitting to Standing and Standing to Sitting, and Bending with a Neutral Spine continue to be important and need to be used as much as possible to lessen the strain on the spine.
The effort to keep a tall posture can also help to reduce your risk of having another broken bone. By practising to hold the head high, as if to balance a book on your head when you walk and stand, and to sit tall and use the hip hinge described earlier, you will protect your spine with all of your everyday movements. These new and improved movements will apply to all your usual activities, such as unloading the dishwasher, looking after children, picking up the dog dish, cleaning the bathtub, gardening, etc.