Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures

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About Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures

Also known as bone loss or porous bone, Osteoporosisis a well-known condition in which bones become weaker and more susceptible to fractures. It affects both women and men.

Women are particularly more vulnerable after menopause, when the body produces less bone-essential estrogen. Spine fractures are the most common results and are divided into lumbar (upper back) and thoracic (lower).

Symptoms:Because the bone is so fragile, a small negligible motion or fall can cause these fractures. Fractures are extremely painful and accompanied by limited spinal movement, such as bending and turning. The pain may be worse standing and may improve with lying down.

Diagnosis:Distinguished bone density is discovered by bone mineral density (BMD) scans, which deliver less radiation to body organs than a chest x-ray. Also, since diet and medication can increase risk, a blood or urine analysis can help determine the cause, risk, and presence of osteoporosis. An x-ray is the first test to diagnose the fractures.

Treatment:The initial treatment is nonsurgical and could include bracing, nasal calcitonin (nasal spray) to help relieve the pain, and short-term rest. If after several weeks of time the pain is still persistent, then surgery may be an option.

The surgical options include vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. Both are done with a small incision to inject bone cement to hold the fracture in place and help relieve the fracture pain.

For more information about spine related conditions and treatments, visit the UCLA Spine Center at at spinecenter.ucla.edu.