Osteoporosis: An Overview
What to Expect After a Fracture
Fractures from osteoporosis often occur at the hip, wrist, and/or spine. Hip fractures often require surgery. Wrist fractures may need casting and/or surgery.
Spine fractures are the most common. About 700,000 spinal fractures occur a year. Weak bones can lead to a compression fracture in the vertebrae, the bones that form your spine. Over time, these fractures can change the strength and shape of your spine. You may lose height. Spine fractures sometimes can lead to chronic back pain. Soft, weak bones are the root of this problem.
Pain Relief Options for Fractures
Pain medicine and other therapies can help. Options include:
- Aspirin or acetaminophen (Actamin, Anacin AF, Tylenol).
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Examples are ibuprofen (Advil, Dolgesic, Motrin, Nuprin) and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn). Both can reduce pain and swelling.
- If you need a stronger painkiller, your doctor can prescribe opioid pain medicines, such as codeine or morphine. However, doctors may discourage you from staying on these potent medicines.
- Applying cold compresses or heat to the site can help the pain. You can pick, depending on which temperature feels best.
- Physical therapy can help you learn how to move properly, reducing risk for more fractures.
Two surgical procedures, both minimally invasive, can be done for fracture-related back pain:
- Kyphoplasty involves inserting a balloon to expand the fractured vertebrae. The space created by the balloon is then filled with bone cement. The balloon is withdrawn.
- Vertebroplasty involves injection of the cement, but without the use of the balloon.
When considering these procedures, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor. The procedures can have significant risk, such as the cement leaking, and other side effects, such as tissue damage, blood clots in the lung, and respiratory failure. However, the surgeries can provide pain relief if patients are good candidates for the procedures.
Complications of Osteoporosis Bone Fractures
Fractures due to osteoporosis can interfere with daily activities such as bending, walking downstairs, or cooking. Prompt treatment, physical therapy, and your commitment to a healthy lifestyle can improve your well-being.