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3 Treatment Approaches for Spinal Fractures due to Osteoporosis

Many women will develop significant bone loss in their postmenopausal years. In some cases, they may not be aware that they have osteoporosis until a minor activity or fall causes a spinal fracture. Once a fracture has occurred, there are different treatment approaches to manage the fracture itself and minimize further bone loss.

Non-Surgical Treatments

In most cases of spinal fractures due to osteoporosis, your doctor will recommend treatments that do not involve surgery. The immediate goal is to reduce pain and prevent further deterioration of the vertebrae. Further deterioration could lead to nerve damage, so it's important to deal with this quickly. Your doctor will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, which are helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Stronger medications might be used for a short period until the worst of the pain has subsided. You may also need a brace to resume normal movements and have additional spine support. Once you are well enough, it is important to engage in physical therapy and return to some of your normal activities. Unfortunately, long-term immobilization after a fracture can lead to new problems, such as further decreases in bone loss or an increased risk of blood clots.

Surgical Options

If a spinal fracture is significant or happens to create pressure on the spine, it will need to be repaired surgically. Fortunately, the repair of a fractured vertebrae can often be performed with minimally-invasive techniques, using a smaller incision than open surgery requires. These minimally-invasive procedures have an easier recovery, too, compared to their open counterparts.

When the vertebrae is repaired, the surgeon may only need to use a special cement to seal fractures, or they might need to insert a balloon into the vertebrae. Once the balloon is inserted, it is inflated, which allows a collapsed vertebrae to expand back to its original shape. The cement is then placed in the vertebrae so it will retain its original shape. When successful, people experience less pain and better mobility after the repair.

Osteoporosis Medications

Regardless of whether you have a non-surgical or surgical approach to fix a spinal fracture, your doctor will recommend osteoporosis medication. There are several types available, but doctors most often start osteoporosis patients with bisphosphonates. They are usually taken as a large dose weekly or monthly and are available as a pill or injection. Side effects can be an issue for some people, but the oral bisphosphonates are usually well-tolerated if they are taken with meals and you do not lie down for an hour afterwards. Although bisphosphonates do not help you build new bone, they can slow additional decreases in bone density.

Once a spinal fracture has occurred due to osteoporosis, preventing further bone loss and addressing the current injury are top priorities. A combination of treatments can minimize fracture-related pain and may prevent additional fractures. For more information on osteoporotic fracture treatments, including postmenopausal injection treatments, contact companies like Radius.