Osteoporosis and Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis is a classification of bone density loss. There is normal, osteopenia (in the middle) and osteoporosis which is based on Bone Mineral Density from a DEXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry). Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures affecting the spine and hips.

Genetics, calcium intake, weight-bearing exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption are factor contributing to osteoporosis. Other causes include use of oral steroids for prolonged periods, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer need to be checked for. A compression fracture can present with and without trauma and may or may not cause pain.

Most of the pain improves with time and can be treated with bracing and relative rest. As the body can weaken quickly with rest, it is important to be as active as possible. Pain management with medications, TENS unit, bracing is important. A vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty where cement is injected into the bone can relieve pain faster and restore some of the vertebral body height.

In order to prevent future fractures, osteoporosis should be treated. This may be through lifestyle and activity changes, improving calcium and vitamin D intake, and medications. Consultation with an endocrinologist, a physician treating hormonal imbalances, can be helpful. Blood work may be necessary to find the best treatment.