Osteoporosis is known as a “silent” disease, because typically there are no symptoms until a fracture occurs. It is not uncommon for someone with back pain to be unaware of the fact that they have actually fractured a vertebra (or multiple vertebrae) in their spine.
The main symptoms of vertebral fractures typically include one or a combination of the following symptoms:
- Sudden onset of back pain
- Standing or walking will usually make the pain worse
- Lying on one’s back makes the pain less intense
- Limited spinal mobility
- Height loss
- Deformity and disability
Usually when osteoporosis results in a vertebral fracture the patient will have sudden back pain. Most patients who are diagnosed with a compression fracture in the spine describe the onset of pain immediately after a routine activity that slightly strains or jars the back, such as:
- Bending – picking something up off the floor
- Falling – jarring the spine by missing a step or slipping on ice.
- Lifting – opening a window or picking up a bag of groceries
Treatment should begin with conservative care including immobilization via a back brace. Anti-inflammatories should be started in conjunction to help control symptoms and promote healing.
It is important that you seek evaluation by a pain specialist as soon as possible after being diagnosed with a fracture of the back. Kyphoplasty is a micro- invasive treatment options that should be done within a few weeks of the injury. This can restore bone height and alignment and provide immediate relief of pain. If the bone is allowed to heal on its own, it may result in prolonged chronic pain and misalignment of the spine.