You did your best to protect yourself from breaking a bone due to osteoporosis. Or maybe you didn't even know your bones were at risk. Either way, your fracture can heal, and you can work closely with your doctor to avoid it ever happening again.
Falls and bumps that wouldn't hurt a person with healthy bones can damage them when you have osteoporosis. Doctors call these injuries low trauma or fragility fractures. If you fall from standing height and break a bone, for example, you'll need treatment for this type of injury.
Some fractures can heal on their own, depending on which bone is broken and how severe the break is.
When you need further treatment, your doctor may refer you on to specialists such as:
An orthopedic doctor, who can help cast and repair your broken bone.
A physiatrist, who treats nerve, muscle, and bone problems that affect how you move.
A physical therapist or occupational therapist, who show you exercises and other ways to recover and get back to your regular activities.
Fractures can hurt for a while, especially if you've broken a hip or a vertebra in your spine, called a compression fracture. You may need medicine for the pain. Ask your doctor to review everything you take, too, even if you didn't need a prescription for it or if it says “natural” on the label. They can check on any possible side effects, like dizziness, that could make you more likely to fall.
In some cases, you'll only need rest, pain medicine, exercises, and perhaps a back brace or treatment for muscle spasms while you heal. And you may need to wear a brace to keep your spine stable during that time.
If your pain lasts and is severe, your doctor may see if it might help for you to get:
Vertebroplasty. Your doctor injects bone cement into the spine to keep it stable. This lessens pain. It can also help prevent further fractures of the vertebrae and a curved spine.
Kyphoplasty. A doctor inserts a balloon device into the fractured vertebra. This helps restore the height and shape of the vertebra. Once removed, the device leaves a small cavity that the doctor then fills with special bone cement.
If your doctor recommends either procedure, talk with them about the risks, benefits, and recovery time.
Treating a hip fracture depends on where your hip is broken, how severe the break is, and your overall health. Treatment options may include:
- Surgical repair with screws, nails, or plates
- A partial or total hip replacement
- Exercises so that you move better and build strength
Wrist and Arm Fractures
The best treatment depends on the location of the break. With the right protection, some fractures may heal on their own. Then you may simply need:
When you need surgery, a doctor may implant a plate, screws, wires, rods, pins, or an external fixator. These devices hold the bone in place while it heals. If the bone is in more than two pieces, a bone graft can help make it heal faster.
When you have osteoporosis, all of your treatments focus on protecting and strengthening your bones. These include diet, exercise, supplements (including calcium and vitamin D), and osteoporosis medicines.
It’s also a good idea to work with your doctor -- or a physical therapist or occupational therapist -- to change the way you do certain activities and start balance training to help you prevent falls.
Last but not least, you’ll want to troubleshoot your home for things that could make a fall more likely. For instance, rugs should have pads that stick to the floor. Your stairs need a handrail. And make sure to get your eyes checked, because vision problems can also make falls more likely.