OSTEOPOROSIS and SPINAL FRACTURES
As we get older, our bones thin and our bone strength decreases. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become very weak and more likely to break. It often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a bone breaks.
Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. These spinal fractures are called vertebral compression fractures. They occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year and are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists.
Not all vertebral compression fractures are due to osteoporosis. But when the disease is involved, a vertebral compression fracture is often a patient’s first sign of a weakened skeleton from osteoporosis (AAOS, 2015).
Facts about Osteoporosis:
- Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
- At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime.
- Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis.
- The risk of suffering a second spine fracture within the first 12 months following an initial vertebral fracture is 20%
Any injury to the vertebrae can have serious consequences because the spinal cord, the central nervous system’s connection between the brain and the body, runs through the center of the vertebrae. Damage to the spinal cord can result in paralysis or death. Injury to the spinal cord at the level of the thoracic and lumbar spine can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of the entire body below the point of injury.