The back pain may seem like arthritis or the aches and pains of aging. People often think it's a disc problem or muscle strain. Many people don't even get examined because either they -- or their family members -- don't realize what the problem is. But often back pain among older adults is caused by a spinal compression fracture.
Only your doctor can diagnose a spinal compression fracture. To determine what's wrong, your doctor may ask questions such as:
- How long have you had this back pain?
- What caused it?
- What were you doing when it started?
- Is the pain getting worse or better?
Your doctor may also prescribe tests such as:
- A spinal X-ray to determine whether a vertebra has collapsed
- A CT scan to provide detail of the fractured bone and the nerves around it
- An MRI scan to show greater detail of nerves and nearby discs
A spinal compression fracture may be seen on a bone density exam (DEXA) if an additional test called a vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) is done at the same time.