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:
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.
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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:
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.
Compression fracture/s diagnosis is confirmed through imaging tests like:
Magnetic resonance imaging MRI 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.
Changes in an individual’s ’30s
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.
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