Spinal fracture can occur anywhere along the spine. Sixty – seventy percent occur in the thorax and lumbar spine (mid back + low back) region (e.g. T10, T11, T12) and 20 – 30 % in upper back spine. Five to ten percent occur in the cervical (neck) region.
When more pressure is put on a bone than it can stand, it will break. The most common type of spinal fracture is a vertebral body (like lumbar vertebrae) compression fracture. Sudden downward force destroys and collapses the body of the vertebrae. If the force is great enough, it may send bone fragments into the spinal canal, called a burst fracture.
Osteoporosis & Spinal Fracture | compression fracture
A spinal fracture due to osteoporosis (weak bones or brittle bones) is commonly referred to as a compression fracture, but can also be called a vertebral fracture, osteoporotic fracture, or wedge fracture. People affected by osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer with poor bone health are prone to vertebral compression fractures. The fracture appears as a wedge-shaped collapse of the vertebra. The front of the bone (vertebra) collapses and back side of the same bone remain undamaged. Multiple fractures can cause a forward hunch of the spine called kyphosis. As far as the back of the fractured bone (vertebra) is safe, spine initially remains stable but needs urgent intervention for future stability and safety as well.
Osteoporosis or even osteopenia causes bones to become thin and more brittle and weak. The thinning bones can collapse during normal activity, leading to a spinal fracture. Spinal fractures due to osteoporosis often occur while doing something that causes relatively minor injury to the spine.
Osteoporosis symptoms | Spinal fracture symptoms
Symptoms of a spinal fracture problem vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. They include
- Back or neck pain of sudden onset with or without any injury
- Upper back pain, middle back pain, lower back pain
- Pain gets worse with standing / walking / changing posture and improves with lying down straight
- Numbness, tingling may or may not be present
- Muscle spasm, back spasm
- Gradual loss of muscle and aerobic training due to lack of movement and exercises
Not all fractures cause spinal cord injury and rarely is the spinal cord completely severed.
Because osteoporosis or osteopenia is a silent disease, even if there is no back pain, middle age or elderly persons (especially women) need to be watchful about potential fractures if there is height loss, limited ability to twist and bend the back, and/or deformity that develops in the spine. Bone density test to check the bone mineral density and dexa scan are two test, that are helpful in diagnosis osteoporosis.
The problem is that the fracture is not always recognized or accurately diagnosed – instead, the patient’s pain is often just thought of as general back pain, such as from a muscle strain or other injury, or slip disc, or as a common part of aging. As a result, approximately two thirds of the vertebral fractures that occur each year are not diagnosed and therefore not treated timely. Compression fracture leads to spondylolisthesis, which is a important reason of back pain.
Timely treatment of these fractures is very important, as it can save the patient from great deal of pain and disability. Treatment of a spinal fracture caused by osteoporosis is usually two-pronged, including treatment of the fracture, osteopenia treatment and osteoporosis treatment that led to the fracture. Spine surgery is not required now to fix the fracture. Click on Spine Fracture Treatment, Kyphoplasty, Vertebroplasty to know in detail.
Interventional Pain and Spine Centre, Delhi, India, with its branches Contact us at Rohini, Ashok Vihar, Punjabi Bagh, Paschim Vihar (New Delhi) and Rohtak (Haryana) is the best spine clinic among many spinal hospital in India, to treat spine fractures without any major surgery and with minimally invasive, pinhole techniques. We are proud to have best spine doctor in Delhi to take care of all neuro and ortho problems.