Osteoporosis Spine Fractures

What is it and how is it treated?

If you’re one of the 44 million Americans who have osteoporosis, your risk of fractures in your spine and elsewhere in your body increases. As many as 700,000 osteoporosis patients have a spinal fracture every year. 

Here at OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio, our orthopedic spine surgeons diagnose and treat vertebral compression fractures and other osteoporosis-related spine problems.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that decreases bone density. Bone loss weakens your bones and increases your risk of fractures throughout your body. Osteoporosis develops gradually, and you could have the disease for years without noticing any symptoms.

Osteoporosis is usually age-related as your body’s ability to generate new bone tissue slows and eventually can’t keep up with your body’s needs. Other osteoporosis risk factors include auto-immune conditions such as arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, and bariatric surgery.

A broken bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis. Patients with osteoporosis are most likely to break their wrist, hip, or spine. You may also notice height loss, scoliosis, or develop a dowager’s hump.

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. The decline of estrogen that women experience as they approach and reach menopause can accelerate bone loss.

What is an osteoporosis spine fracture?

In most cases, osteoporosis leads to vertebral compression fractures. The lost bone density makes your vertebrae weak, narrow, and flat. 

This causes a rounded or humped back as well as increasing your risk of a compression fracture. Too much pressure on a weakened vertebra can cause it to crack and collapse.

Your spine is built to twist and bend, but osteoporosis-related bone loss can increase your risk of a spine fracture while doing everyday actions such as reaching, twisting, or even coughing or sneezing.

Osteoporosis spine fractures cause back pain, usually near the break itself. Your pain becomes more severe when you move or shift positions. Lying down or resting can ease your pain. 

You may have radiant pain or other symptoms if the fracture compresses your spinal cord or any of the peripheral nerve roots. This could lead to conditions such as sciatica or cervical radiculopathy.

How are vertebral compression fractures diagnosed?

The OrthoNeuro orthopedic surgeons provide physical exams and diagnostic tests, including X-rays and MRIs, to diagnose and locate fractured vertebrae. They collect your health information and medical history to learn about your symptoms and lifestyle.

You may also need bone density testing, also known as Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). A DEXA scan is the best way to confirm an osteoporosis diagnosis.

What are the treatments for vertebral fractures?

The doctors at OrthoNeuro offer customized treatment plans for spine fractures. Your condition may improve with a short period of rest and pain medications. Your orthopedic surgeon might also recommend a back brace to immobilize your spine so your vertebral compression fracture can heal.

Some patients may need a surgical procedure to repair a vertebral compression fracture. OrthoNeuro offers vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty to repair your damaged vertebra.

Both spine surgery options are minimally invasive procedures, and your doctor can treat more than one vertebrae at a time. 

You lie on your front during vertebroplasty, and your surgeon uses X-ray guidance to locate your fractured vertebra. They insert a hollow needle into your broken vertebra and inject surgical cement. When the cement hardens, it fills and stabilizes your vertebra.

Kyphoplasty is a similar procedure, except your surgeon first inserts a small surgical balloon into your broken vertebra. They inflate the balloon to create space inside your vertebra before injecting the surgical cement.

Whether you have nonsurgical or surgical treatment, the goals are pain relief, increased bone strength, and a safe return to your regular activities.

How can I prevent spine fractures?

You can improve and protect your bone mineral density to lower your risk of osteoporosis and compression fractures. Including adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet helps maintain your bone mass and strength.

Calcium is critical to bone formation and maintaining bone quality later in life. While most of your bone growth occurs in your youth, you should continue to replace the calcium that your body uses every day.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Many dairy products are supplemented with vitamin D. Additionally, a limited amount of sunshine helps your body make vitamin D. 

You can take calcium and vitamin D supplements, but talk to your doctor and have blood tests to determine how much of these nutrients you need to optimize your bone health.

Regular exercise is also essential to keeping your bones strong. In general, doctors recommend aiming for 30 minutes of moderate activity three to five times a week to maintain your overall health. 

Weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, and weight lifting are excellent ways to support your bone health. An added benefit of regular exercise is that it can reduce your risk of falls and lower your chances of breaking a bone.

Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if you have concerns about osteoporosis, spine fractures, or other spinal problems.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Spine Surgeon Today!

  • If you have been experiencing chronic back pain, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Spine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 
  • We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. 

Meet Our Spine Team

Paul H. Eichenseer, DO

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

David K. Kim, MD

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Donald J. Rohl, DO

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Daryl R. Sybert, DO, FAOAO

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Larry T. Todd, DO

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Mark A. White, DO


Daniel P. Pap, MD

Interventional Pain Specialist

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