Spinal vertebral compression fractures are a common injury in older individuals brought on from a lowered bone density. Hip and wrist fractures get most of the attention when it comes to osteoporosis. However, spinal fractures happen almost twice as often and affect around 700,000 individuals yearly. This is according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons or the AAOS. These types of fractures are also known as:
The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons notes that changes in the body’s musculoskeletal bone structure can go unnoticed for years. This leads to the vertebrae narrowing and flattening, rounding the spine as a result, creating compression. Because of the weakened bone, the pressure, even from everyday low-impact movements like reaching, bending or twisting. There are strategies that can help prevent osteoporosis and osteoporotic compression fractures.
One prevention strategy that is highly recommended is more movement and physical activity. This does not include occasional gentle movements like taking a break from sitting. Improving the spine’s health means using the full range of motion and loading the bones so they can get build strength. This could be walking more, which creates spinal resistance. Also using light weights with high repetitions with five to ten pounds of a load is enough to challenge the spine without generating muscle stress.
Individuals think they need to rest more as they get older, but to build and maintain bone density to prevent osteoporotic compression fractures more physical activity is needed. Moving around for 10 to 15 minutes every hour is a good way to start. Incorporating more activity, and focusing on healthy diet changes will help shed excess weight. This will decrease pressure on the spine, reducing the risk of fractures. For individuals with osteoporosis of the spine, it is important to review any exercise plans with a physician or doctor of chiropractic to ensure that they are safe. The wrong types of movement or too much stress on a fragile spine can definitely cause a fracture.
There are medications that can help build bone density, but there are also medications for conditions that can actually cause faster bone density loss. Individuals could be taking a medication that’s good for one issue/condition, but not realize it may be associated with a reduction in bone density. This is why it is important to review prescriptions with a doctor with bone density loss side effects in mind. Medications that can cause bone loss include:
Also, review any underlying conditions that could affect osteoporosis. As an example, the National Institutes of Health or NIH note that individuals with diabetes, specifically type 1, can have poor bone quality increasing their risk of fractures.
An adequate intake of calcium is essential for osteoporosis prevention and helps lower the risk of fragility fractures. A low calcium intake contributes significantly to lower bone density and faster bone loss with age. Vitamin D also helps in bone injury prevention.
Compression fracture/s diagnosis are confirmed through imaging tests like:
Bone density testing with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry DEXA will determine bone mineral density. If a scan reveals there is a vertebral compression fracture, the most common approach is no treatment. According to the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, most individuals with this type of injury improve within three months with a combined rest period and limited pain medication use.
Some individuals are recommended to wear braces to restrict movement so the fracture can heal without any added compression or stress. For those that do not respond to non-surgical treatment, minimally invasive surgery could become an option. In both cases, a doctor will suggest similar aforementioned strategies to help strengthen the bones and prevent worsening or creating new issues.
As an individual enters their 30’s and up, new challenges begin to emerge with greater demands at work and home. A few things that can begin to present:
Things start to change when the body enters its 30’s. Whether light exercise, playing weekend games, local sports, etc, the key is to just stay active. By paying close attention to nutrition and making minor adjustments, individuals can maintain and improve body composition, stay strong and healthy in their 30s and be ready for the future.
The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP, CIFM, CTG*
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico
OrthoInfo/spine fracture prevalence: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/osteoporosis-and-spinal-fractures
Medications that affect bone density: https://osteoporosis.ca/about-the-disease/what-is-osteoporosis/secondary-osteoporosis/medications-that-can-cause-bone-loss-falls-andor-fractures/#:~:text=The%20anti%2Dseizure%20drugs%20carbamazepine,decreased%20intestinal%20absorption%20of%20calcium.
NIH: osteoarthritis and diabetes: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/conditions-behaviors/diabetes
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