What are the symptoms of a fracture?
Usually sudden onset of thoracic or lumbar back pain. May occur spontaneously, after a fall or a twist. Occasionally pain will come on slowly over several days. Pain may spread around the chest and it can be very painful to stand and walk. The individual may notice a loss of height or find they are more bent over or stooped. Some relief is gained from lying down. Nerve compression is unlikely and legs are rarely affected.
What is the prognosis and treatment options?
Osteoporotic bones fractures more easily, but heal normally. Fractures typically heal slowly over 3 months, with gradual improvement in back pain. Untreated, the spinal deformity caused by the crushed vertebra persists and patients are left in a stooped posture. This leads to an increased risk of developing vertebral fractures at other levels.
Vertebral compression fractures lead to a rounded back deformity called kyphosis. This leads to overuse of the posterior spinal muscles, when the individual is upright and can result in back pain.
Cement augmentation (Balloon Kyphoplasty or Vertebroplasty) is a modern, safe, and well tolerated procedure recommended by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) for the treatment of osteoporotic compression fractures with an 80% chance of relieving back pain, restoring vertebral height and prolonging life, in this patient group.