Categories: Injury CareSpine Care

Avoiding and Preventing Spinal Compression Fractures

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Spinal vertebral compression fractures are a common injury in older individuals brought on from a lowered bone density. Hip and wrist fractures get most of the attention when it comes to osteoporosis. However, spinal fractures happen almost twice as often and affect around 700,000 individuals yearly. This is according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons or the AAOS. These types of fractures are also known as:

  • Fragility fractures
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Osteoporotic compression fractures. These usually happen as a result of thinning and weakening bones caused by osteoporosis.

The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons notes that changes in the body’s musculoskeletal bone structure can go unnoticed for years. This leads to the vertebrae narrowing and flattening, rounding the spine as a result, creating compression. Because of the weakened bone, the pressure, even from everyday low-impact movements like reaching, bending or twisting. There are strategies that can help prevent osteoporosis and osteoporotic compression fractures.

More Movement and Physical Activity

One prevention strategy that is highly recommended is more movement and physical activity. This does not include occasional gentle movements like taking a break from sitting. Improving the spine’s health means using the full range of motion and loading the bones so they can get build strength. This could be walking more, which creates spinal resistance. Also using light weights with high repetitions with five to ten pounds of a load is enough to challenge the spine without generating muscle stress.

Individuals think they need to rest more as they get older, but to build and maintain bone density to prevent osteoporotic compression fractures more physical activity is needed. Moving around for 10 to 15 minutes every hour is a good way to start. Incorporating more activity, and focusing on healthy diet changes will help shed excess weight. This will decrease pressure on the spine, reducing the risk of fractures. For individuals with osteoporosis of the spine, it is important to review any exercise plans with a physician or doctor of chiropractic to ensure that they are safe. The wrong types of movement or too much stress on a fragile spine can definitely cause a fracture.

Medications and Other Conditions

There are medications that can help build bone density, but there are also medications for conditions that can actually cause faster bone density loss. Individuals could be taking a medication that’s good for one issue/condition, but not realize it may be associated with a reduction in bone density. This is why it is important to review prescriptions with a doctor with bone density loss side effects in mind. Medications that can cause bone loss include:

  • Glucocorticoids
  • Aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer
  • Androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Depo-Provera for contraception
  • Anti-seizure drugs like carbamazepine and phenytoin
  • Diuretics like furosemide

Also, review any underlying conditions that could affect osteoporosis. As an example, the National Institutes of Health or NIH note that individuals with diabetes, specifically type 1, can have poor bone quality increasing their risk of fractures.

Adding Calcium To The Diet

An adequate intake of calcium is essential for osteoporosis prevention and helps lower the risk of fragility fractures. A low calcium intake contributes significantly to lower bone density and faster bone loss with age. Vitamin D also helps in bone injury prevention.

Treatment

Compression fracture/s diagnosis are confirmed through imaging tests like:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging MRI scan
  • Bone scan
  • Computed tomography CT scan

Bone density testing with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry DEXA will determine bone mineral density. If a scan reveals there is a vertebral compression fracture, the most common approach is no treatment. According to the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, most individuals with this type of injury improve within three months with a combined rest period and limited pain medication use.

Some individuals are recommended to wear braces to restrict movement so the fracture can heal without any added compression or stress. For those that do not respond to non-surgical treatment, minimally invasive surgery could become an option. In both cases, a doctor will suggest similar aforementioned strategies to help strengthen the bones and prevent worsening or creating new issues.

Body Composition

Changes in an individual’s 30’s

As an individual enters their 30’s and up, new challenges begin to emerge with greater demands at work and home. A few things that can begin to present:

  • More flab on the middle that gets harder to burn off
  • Performance at work, the gym, or on the road slows down or begins to reverse
  • Workouts, sporting events, physical activity that the body was able to bounce back from quite easily now take twice as long to recover from

Things start to change when the body enters its 30’s. Whether light exercise, playing weekend games, local sports, etc, the key is to just stay active. By paying close attention to nutrition and making minor adjustments, individuals can maintain and improve body composition, stay strong and healthy in their 30s and be ready for the future.

Disclaimer

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP, CIFM, CTG*
email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com
phone: 915-850-0900
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico

References

OrthoInfo/spine fracture prevalence: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/osteoporosis-and-spinal-fractures

Medications that affect bone density: https://osteoporosis.ca/about-the-disease/what-is-osteoporosis/secondary-osteoporosis/medications-that-can-cause-bone-loss-falls-andor-fractures/#:~:text=The%20anti%2Dseizure%20drugs%20carbamazepine,decreased%20intestinal%20absorption%20of%20calcium.

NIH: osteoarthritis and diabetes: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/conditions-behaviors/diabetes

Dr. Alex Jimenez

Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.

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