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All About Compression Fractures: A Common Complication of Osteoporosis

All About Compression Fractures: A Common Complication of Osteoporosis

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, an ideal time to address one of the most common, yet frequently overlooked, complications of osteoporosis: compression fractures. These painful spine issues tend to occur without trauma, instead resulting from loss of bone mass. 

An untreated compression fracture can cause chronic pain, lead to deformity, and have a major impact on your mobility and overall quality of life. 

Patients with spine pain can count on board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, and the rest of our team at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas to help. If you have a compression fracture and haven’t found adequate relief, Dr. Jones can review your case and offer an individualized recommendation for an effective solution.

Women over 50 at greater risk for osteoporosis

A compression fracture occurs when one or more bones in the spine weaken and collapse. This is often due to osteoporosis, which causes bones to weaken and become fragile. Women make up 80% of those affected by osteoporosis, and being a woman over the age of 50 places you at a higher risk of developing compression fractures. 

As women age and estrogen declines, women lose some bone protection, boosting their risk of osteoporosis. Because the spine is load-bearing, it’s particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis-related fractures.

Symptoms and diagnosis of compression fractures

Back pain is the most common symptom of a compression fracture. This pain can vary from mild to severe and tends to increase with movement. 

Over time, compression fractures can lead to changes in posture and a decrease in height. Many patients may not realize they’ve sustained a fracture and might dismiss their back pain as a normal part of aging.

Diagnosing a compression fracture typically involves a combination of carefully reviewing the patient’s history, conducting a physical examination, and performing imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or CT scans.

Getting relief: Compression fracture treatment

Treatment for compression fractures varies depending on the severity of the fracture and the patient's overall health. Most compression fractures heal with noninvasive approaches, such as bracing and physical therapy. However, by the time patients reach our office, they’re often experiencing significant, persistent pain that hasn’t responded to noninvasive treatment. 

When this is the case, surgical intervention may be necessary. Dr. Jones specializes in minimally invasive treatment options, which offers several advantages over traditional surgery.

Minimally invasive techniques such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty can stabilize the fracture and reduce pain with minimal surgical intervention. These techniques involve injecting a special medical cement-like material into the fractured vertebra to restore height and relieve pain.

Because these procedures are less invasive, they typically result in shorter recovery times and carry a lower risk of complications compared to traditional open surgeries.

Take your bone health seriously

Vertebral compression fractures are often the result of osteoporosis. You can take steps to prevent or slow the progress of osteoporosis by getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet and doing strength-building, weight-bearing exercise. When you experience back pain, don’t wait to see a specialist.

The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas team is here to provide advanced solutions to help you manage pain and get relief from compression fractures. Contact us today to learn more about your options and how we can assist in your recovery and long-term spine health.

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