As we grow older, our bones thin and our bone strength reduces. Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that can devastate bone density, its core strength and increases the risk for bone fracture. Many times, it develops unnoticed over many years, without any symptoms or pain until a bone breaks. Fractures as a result of osteoporosis most frequently occur in the spine. These spinal fractures – called vertebral compression fractures – occur in nearly 700,000 patients every year. They can be almost two times as common as other fractures typically associated with osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists.
Once the small bones of the spine (vertebrae) weaken from osteoporosis, they will narrow or shrink. This may lead to a rounded back, a hump or a “bent forward” look to the spine. A lot of people with osteoporosis also are aware that they are getting shorter with time.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
A vertebral compression fracture causes back pain. The pain and discomfort commonly occurs close to the break itself. Vertebral compression fractures most frequently occur near the waistline. It can also be slightly above it (mid-chest) or below it (lower back). The discomfort often exacerbates with sitting or standing for some time. It is often relieved by rest or laying down. Even though the pain may shift to other parts of the body (for example, into the abdomen or down the legs), it is uncommon.
Management for osteoporosis
The majority of people who sustain a vertebral compression fracture improve within 6 to 8 weeks without specific treatment to repair the fracture. Simple measures, such as rest and limited use of pain medications, are often all that is prescribed. In some cases, patients are instructed to wear a brace to restrict movement and allow the vertebral compression fracture to heal. When your chiropractor has diagnosed osteoporosis, you will be at an increased risk for further vertebral compression fractures as well as other fractures, such as to the hip and wrist. Your chiropractor will address treatments for bone density loss during this time. Exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle will help with this.