Your Compression Fracture and Osteoporosis

Vertebral compression fractures are fractures of the spinal vertebra. These most commonly occur in women with osteoporosis. They can also occur in men with osteoporosis, but low bone density is much more common in women.






What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a thinning or a weakening of the bones throughout your body. This may lead to fractures but the osteoporosis itself is not painful. The pain does not start until you have a fracture.

Osteoporosis is more common in the elderly and it is estimated that 40% of women in their 80s have suffered some type of fracture due to osteoporosis.

Vertebra, Hip, Wrist Fractures

Most common fractures are vertebral fractures, but you may also have osteoporotic fractures of your hip, your wrist or most other bones in your body.

Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures occur when the spinal vertebra collapse into themselves. If you think about each of your spinal vertebra as a little block of bone, compression fractures occur when the block gets crunched down. This causes the wedge shape the vertebra your doctor may see you on xrays of your spine.

Image thanks to © Nevit Dilmen

As you age your bones can become so frail they will collapse with only minimal force such as a sneeze or stepping off of a curb. Hip fractures can also occur with very little trauma. For many years these hip fractures were thought to occur because of a fall. More recently doctors have come to realize that these fractures occur first because of osteoporosis and then you fall because of the fracture.

Require Little or No Trauma

Vertebral compression fractures generally occur suddenly and cause severe back pain that makes it difficult for you to stand, walk or even breathe. 

You can also develop minor fractures at multiple levels that that cause a chronic kind of back pain. This can happen when the vertebra is only compressed slightly and then before that can heal and other similar injury will occur at another level, and then before that can heal another vertebra can fracture.

When these develop over a period of time they can cause spinal deformities. The most commonly in the upper back called a "hunchback" or Dowagers Hump.

Determine Your Risk and Avoid the Fracture

In order to avoid osteoporosis you need to begin by learning your bone density. This is a test that your doctor can order. This is probably more important for females over 50 years of age because they are at increased risk for osteoporosis.

It will tell you your bone density and your fracture risk.

Other Risk Factors For Osteoporosis

•Current or recent history of Smoking 

•History of a vertebral compression fracture 

•Chronic steroid medications such as prednisone 

•Body mass index of less than 20 

Understand your BMD (bone mineral density) Score

Your osteoporosis test or BMD score will be divided into three parts. 

Your Z-score              Your T-score             Your Fracture Risk

Your T-score compares your bone density to a healthy young person of your sex. 

Osteopenia is diagnosed with a T-score of -1.0 to -2.5. A normal T-score is anything above -1.0. A T-score that is less than -2.5 is diagnosed as osteoporosis.

Your Z-score reports your BMD compared to a healthy person of your age and sex. <br>

When your Z-score is less than -2.0 you may be losing bone mass faster than he is expected for a person of your age and sex. You may need to consider lifestyle and dietary changes to bring your bone density closer to the average for your age group

Your Fracture Risk uses your T-score to determine your risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.

Your fracture risk is determined by combining your T-score, sex, age, and your history of fractures. You can check your fracture risk by using this free Fracture Risk Calculator presented by the Garvan Institute

What This Means to You

After you've determined your bone density and your fracture risk you can decide what needs to be done. You can discuss with your doctor dietary supplements, exercise programs, and medical treatments that may be helpful.

Learn more about Osteoporosis and what your options are at:

Find Osteoporosis Treatment before Your Compression Fracture



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