Capital Region Special Surgery medical office Albany, NY

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KNOW THE SIGNS: Osteoporosis and Compression Fractures

November 19, 2012

Anyone with significant back pain — especially a woman who is near or over age 50 — should see a doctor. Most compression fractures in women over 50 are due to osteoporosis http://on.webmd.com/Tca6KX


The risk for compression fracture increases with age. Osteoporosis, a bone weakening disease greatly increases the risk for compression fracture. Trauma (e.g. falling) or simply bending may cause compression fracture in an osteoporotic spine. Over time, thoracic compression fractures can create a kyphosis (e.g. humpback) accompanied by disabling pain and neural compromise.

Symptoms of a Spinal Compression Fracture

It is important to identify the symptoms of spinal compression fractures and notify your doctor right away. Sudden, severe back pain, especially in older women, may signal a spinal compression fracture or another serious condition.

Anyone with significant back pain — especially a woman who is near or over age 50 — should see a doctor. Most compression fractures in women over 50 are due to osteoporosis and treatment can help reduce the chance of further compression fractures.

One or more symptoms can indicate a spinal fracture:

The pain typically occurs with a slight back strain during an everyday activity, like:

Different Signs of Spinal Compression Fracture Pain

The pain experience of a spinal compression fracture can vary. For many people, the pain will subside while the bone is healing. That can take up to two or three months. Other people will continue feeling pain, even if the fracture has healed.

Not everyone feels a clear-cut spinal pain when a fracture occurs.

In some cases, there is virtually no pain involved with spinal compression fractures. The fractures may occur so gradually that the pain is relatively mild or unnoticeable. For some people, the pain may evolve into a chronic back ache in the injured area. For others, the gradual curving of the spine is the first indication that multiple fractures have occurred.

Signs of Multiple Spinal Compression Fractures

When multiple spinal compression fractures have occurred, there is considerable change in the spine. This can affect the internal organs and body functions:

The symptoms of spinal compression fractures are obviously different for every person.

Kyphoplasty and Percutaneous Vertebroplasty (PV) are two types of surgical procedures used to treat compression fractures. These procedures have benefitted many patients with osteoporosis. A spine specialist determines if this procedure will benefit the patient.

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