Spinal Compression Fracture And Osteoporosis: The Link Between These Common Conditions

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According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 75 million people across Japan, Europe and the United States suffer from osteoporosis. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with this life-changing condition, you might be wondering about some of the potential problems that may arise as the disease progresses. One common injury that is often associated with osteoporosis is called a spinal compression fracture. Here is some valuable information about the link between osteoporosis and spinal compression fractures, how these fractures are diagnosed and potential treatment options:

The Link Between Spinal Compression Fractures and Osteoporosis

As individuals age, their bones naturally become weaker and more porous, which leads to the condition called osteoporosis. When pressure is placed on these weakened bones, they are more prone to fractures and breaks. This often occurs in hips, wrists and spinal cord. As a patient's osteoporosis progresses, it can cause their spinal vertebrae to flatten and weaken.

These flatter, weaker vertebrae can easily suffer damage in the form of cracks, otherwise called a spinal compression fracture. This often causes the elderly individual to become shorter and can impact their posture. The exact cause of the spinal compression fracture can also vary. In many cases, the patient will suffer a fall. However, it is not uncommon for an individual with advanced osteoporosis to suffer a spinal compression fracture from simply standing, bending or even sneezing.

Diagnosing a Spinal Compression Fracture

In most cases, pain is often the first indicator of a spinal compression fracture. The pain will occur at the site of the fracture and will become worse when the individual places pressure on it, such as by standing up or walking. Coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects or bending can also make the pain worse.

If you are suffering from extreme back pain that seems to worsen if you bend over or stand up and if you suddenly lost height or your spine has curved and you are hunching over, it's vital to visit your doctor right away. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your spinal compression fracture by first asking about your symptoms and performing a physical exam.

Additionally, your doctor might also perform a bone density test, X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. Once the spinal compression fracture is diagnosed, your doctor will determine the appropriate treatment based upon your age and the severity of your fracture and osteoporosis.

Treating Spinal Compression Fractures  

Luckily, in many cases if the fracture is minor, you won't require any treatment. Instead, your doctor will recommend lying down more often, which helps alleviate pressure on the fractured vertebra, and avoiding bending over and lifting heavy objects. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever, which should be taken according to the bottle's directions.

As your symptoms become less severe and you begin to feel better, your doctor might recommend physical therapy or even yoga.

If your pain is severe or if your symptoms are not alleviated by rest and physical therapy, your doctor might recommend any number of surgical options to repair your spinal compression fracture. For example, one option is a procedure called kyphoplasty. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a small needle into the affected vertebra. Next, the surgeon will insert a specialized small balloon that is then inflated to create a small pocket inside the vertebra. That pocket is then filled with a cement-like product that helps strengthen and restore the vertebra.

As individuals age, both osteoporosis and spinal decompression fractures become more common. If you are suffering from osteoporosis or believe you have suffered an osteoporosis-related spinal decompression fracture, don't hesitate to contact your physician. For more information, see a website such as http://swfna.com.