Osteoporosis and Spinal Fractures

Not all spinal fractures are caused by osteoporosis. However, when the disease is present, a fracture often occurs along the upper (thoracic) spine, indicating a weakened skeletal system. Osteoporosis is a common condition that brings about decreased bone mass, increasing the probability of broken bones. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoporosis and low bone mass prevalence in adults 50 and older is 56%. This means more than half of the older population in the US has osteoporosis or is at an increased danger of developing it. Read on to learn more about spinal fractures and osteoporosis, as well as how our compassionate team at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery can help.

Causes and Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is categorized either as primary or secondary. Primary osteoporosis is common in postmenopausal women due to female hormones declining with age. Secondary osteoporosis develops when the body’s ability to produce new bone tissue is impeded by an underlying medical condition or by the use of certain medications. Overall, osteoporosis is commonly caused by a decline in bone mass and strength, which heightens the risk of fractures.

A family history of the disease, living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, and vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of someone developing osteoporosis. Signs of osteoporosis may not be noticeable until a fracture occurs, but some common symptoms include:

  • Weak and brittle bones that easily break
  • Reduced mobility and difficulty carrying out daily tasks
  • Back pain resulting from a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Frequent bone fractures, especially in the hip, wrist, and spine
  • Joint stiffness and pain, as well as fatigue and general weakness
  • A stooped posture or hunched back, including a gradual loss of height
  • Gum recession, gum disease, and tooth loss due to weakened jawbone

Early detection is critical for preventing fractures and managing disease progression. Osteoporosis treatment consists of lifestyle changes along with medication to raise the bone density and minimize the risk of fractures.

Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Spinal fractures are often diagnosed through a medical history assessment, imaging tests, and a physical examination to reveal tenderness or curvature of the spine. A bone mineral density (BMD) test, X-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of the fracture. These tests can also help identify other underlying conditions contributing to bone loss; for instance, cancer or hormonal imbalances.

A BMD procedure, in particular, measures the strength and density of bones in the body to diagnose osteoporosis. The test involves using a special X-ray machine to scan the bones in the hip, spine, and other body areas. BMD tests help patients take the necessary steps toward preventing and managing osteoporosis to improve bone health. 

Some treatment options may include:

  • Pain management using epidural steroid injections
  • Physical therapy to enhance spine strength and mobility
  • Bed rest and immobilization using braces or support devices to immobilize the spine
  • Spinal fusion or vertebral augmentation surgery is used to treat severe fractures that have not responded to other therapies or medical interventions
  • Minimally-invasive surgical interventions, like vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty, are used to treat compression fractures of the spine, restore damaged vertebrae height, and relieve pain.

While the benefits of vertebroplasty are short-term, kyphoplasty may help improve function and reduce pain faster in the long term. If one of these two surgical interventions is an option, your spine doctor will review the procedure and discuss realistic recovery expectations with you.

Prevention of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a serious health concern, especially among women. While no single approach exists to avert osteoporosis, several steps are available that individuals can take to reduce their risk. One of the most significant measures is to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet comprising adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential for strong bones, and deficiency in either can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Frequent physical activities, particularly weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and weightlifting, also help build bone density and decrease the risk of fractures. Quitting smoking and cutting down excessive alcohol consumption is imperative as well, since both have been linked to weakened bones. Regular bone density screenings are recommended for women over 65 or individuals with a family history of osteoporosis.

Bone examinations are crucial because they can aid in detecting the onset of bone loss and allow for early intervention. This may stave off fractures and even slow disease progression. These tests enable doctors to determine the best course of treatment, such as stem cell therapy. The procedure lessens fracture susceptibility by increasing osteoblast differentiation to augment bone mineral loss in osteoporosis patients. 

Consult a Florida Board-Certified Spinal Specialist at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery

Osteoporosis is a serious condition affecting millions worldwide, particularly women and the elderly. Recognizing predispositions and taking preventative measures is vital in managing the impact of this disease. Schedule regular screening to help determine an appropriate osteoporosis treatment option to mitigate bone density loss.

Our orthopedic experts have years of combined experience in advanced surgeries and minimally-invasive procedures to treat various back and neck conditions. We have successfully treated thousands of patients at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery. If you suspect your chronic pain is due to osteoporosis, we can help you find the right treatment. Call us at (855) 853-6542 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment and begin your pain-free journey today.

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