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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Osteoporosis and Spine Fractures

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Ever have back pain and worry it might be a spinal fracture? Many people -- especially those with osteoporosis -- have severe back pain that's caused by spine fractures. A fractured spine can be extremely painful and also result in disfigurement and immobility.

What Is a Spine Fracture?

A spine -- or spinal -- fracture is any fracture involving the bones that make up your spinal column. Spine fractures can cause severe back pain that can make it difficult for you to stand, walk, sit, or lift objects.

Spine fractures sometimes are also referred to as vertebral compression fractures. When the spinal vertebral bone gets weakened it can break, usually in a manner that causes it to collapse or compress. The most effective way to prevent vertebral compression fractures is to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

In some cases, pain from a spinal fracture can be so debilitating that you have great difficulty making small movements. Spine fractures can make any position (standing or sitting) very uncomfortable. Spine fractures can also cause you to lose your independence.

Who’s at Greatest Risk for Spine Fractures?

Women, especially those older than 50, are at greatest risk for spine fractures. By age 80, about 40% of women have had a spinal fracture. Estimates put the number of vertebral fractures that occur each year at about 700,000.

Men can also have a spinal fracture, and women and men who have osteoporosis have an even greater risk of spine fractures.

Age plays a big role in spine fractures. As you age, your bones may become increasingly thinner and weaker, leading to the condition known as osteoporosis. The effort required to just hold your body erect can be enough to cause a spinal fracture when someone has osteoporosis.

For in depth information, see WebMD’s Osteoporosis Risk Factors: Are You at Risk?

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