What are Osteoporotic Fractures?
Osteoporosis is a bone disorder where your bones become fragile and weak causing them to break easily. The condition occurs when your body starts losing bone or does not make enough bone or both, due to calcium deficiency. Osteoporosis is common in the spine.
Osteoporotic fractures are breaks in your bones caused by osteoporosis. A mild fall or twisting and simple acts like bending over or coughing can result in fractures of your spinal bones due to osteoporosis.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of osteoporotic fractures include but are not limited to:
- Acute pain in the mid to lower back (near the waistline)
- Pain that gets worse while sitting, standing or walking for long periods
- Back pain that:
- Worsens when changing positions
- Gets better when lying down
- Increases when coughing or sneezing
- A curved, stoop shaped spine with a humped back
- Inability to lift objects, loss of body height
What If Osteoporotic Fractures are Left Untreated?
If untreated, the condition can lead to:
- Chronic back pain
- Respiratory issues
- Functional decline or disability
- Increased morbidity or mortality
Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by assessing your general health and/or medical history and follow up with a physical examination. The condition is then confirmed with imaging tests such as:
- Bone scan
- DXA or DEXA scan
- MRI or CT scan
- Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)
Treatment of Osteoporotic Fractures
Initial treatments of osteoporotic fractures typically include adequate rest, use of pain medicines or a back brace, and physical therapy (for mild to moderate bone fractures).
If the pain lasts and is severe, your doctor may order minimally invasive surgical procedures such as:
- This involves injecting bone cement directly into the affected area.
- The procedure:
- Ensures less pain and a stable spine
- Avoids a curved spine
- Prevents further fractures
However, vertebroplasty is considered as a short-term option.
- This involves the delivery of bone cement into the affected area through a balloon device.
- The procedure:
- Helps restore the shape and height of the vertebra
- Ensures quick results compared to vertebroplasty
The best way to prevent osteoporotic fractures is by preventing osteoporosis. This can be achieved through:
- A diet or supplements rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
- Regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises
- Early diagnosis and medications for osteoporosis