What you put down to regular and chronic back pain might just be caused by something more serious, such as a spine fracture. And the worst part is you wouldn’t even know about it until it’s too late given that osteoporosis is usually the underlying condition which does not display any significant, overt symptoms. Often, the loss of bone density leads to the degradation of your spine and eventually a fracture which could cause intense pain and at times even spinal deformity.
The problem is spine fractures usually surface as just another routine back pain, that flares up when you bend or lift something heavy off the ground. However, it transforms from an acute pain to a nagging, chronic pain after a couple of months by which time you are resigned to loss of strength and mobility, regular pain, etc.
This is also one of the reasons spine fractures are extremely difficult to diagnose, with less than 25% of cases being accurately found out before it has become a serious issue. The diagnosis is usually carried out by Xrays, CT scans and MRI, physical exams and complete evaluation of medical history. Women over 50 who are prone to osteoporosis should be carefully examined and treated.
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If your spine fracture is a result of osteoporosis, the usual treatment option is to tackle the fracture directly in order to minimize the pain and work on the functional disability.
Rest is the first line of treatment where your spine is allowed to heal and recover until it regains its mobility. Pain killers and other medications might be administered to help you tide over. In case this is not helpful, then surgical options might be the only way forward with vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty being the most common methods.
Vertebroplasty: This is a small and minimally invasive option where your spinal fracture is stabilized with use of low viscosity cement. This helps in alleviating the pain and is a very simple procedure where you can go home the same day.
Kyphoplasty: Another small and minimally invasive operation where a cavity is created among the spinal bones in order to restore vertebral bone height and reduce any deformity. Low viscosity cement is then injected into this cavity to stabilize the spine, alleviate the fracture and pain. Patients can go back home the next day.
Prevention of Additional Fracture
The problem with osteoporosis is that even if you treat one fracture, another would resurface unless you treat the underlying condition. So the second line of treatment involves managing osteoporosis itself. This usually includes
• Medications that reduce the degradation of your bones/loss of bone density, or those that improve bone formation. Regular bone density tests, especially DEXA scans.
• Following a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Taking in supplements if such a diet is difficult to follow.
• Regular exercise and weight training, which have been shown to improve bone mass, improve blood circulation and increase overall health
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