- Talking to Your Doctor
- Common Questions
- Spinal Fracture Resources
About Spinal Fracture
Understanding spinal fracture and its risk factors is the first step in prevention and early detection.
A spinal fracture (also called a "vertebral compression fracture," or "VCF") occurs when the bones in your spine, called vertebrae, get so weak that they fracture and collapse. Spine fractures can happen from something as dramatic as a fall, or from simple movements like coughing, sneezing, or reaching for something in the cupboard. Spinal fractures may have long-term consequences on your health and quality of life. Once you’ve had your first spinal fracture, your risk of developing another one within a year is increased.2
Who Is at Risk for Spinal Fracture?
Both men and women are at risk for spinal fractures. Your risk is increased if you:
- Have had a spinal fracture in the past
- Have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have a family history of osteoporosis
- Are living with cancer or have been treated for cancer in the past
- Have low bone mineral density
Are Spinal Fractures That Common?
Spinal fractures are twice as common as hip fractures1 and three times more common than breast cancer.3 Spinal fractures are most common in postmenopausal women over 55. In fact, one in two women over age 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related spinal fracture.1
Symptoms of Spinal Fracture
Sudden or persistent back pain may be one indication of a spinal fracture.» Read more
Consequences of Spinal Fracture
An untreated spinal fracture may have long-term, adverse effects on your quality of life.» Read more
Diagnosing Spinal Fracture
Early diagnosis can help you receive proper treatment and might prevent some of the future consequences of spinal fracture.» Read more
Preventing Spinal Fracture
Medications, supplements, and physical activity can help prevent or delay spinal fracture.» Read more
Talking to Your Doctor
Knowing which questions to ask can help you learn more from the discussion with your doctor.» Read more
Get answers to common questions about spinal fracture.» Read more
Normal vertebral body
Fractured vertebral body
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Available at: www.nof.org/osteoporosis/diseasefacts.htm. Accessed February 28, 2007.
Lindsay R, Silverman SL, Cooper C, et al. Risk of new vertebral fracture in the year following a fracture. Jama 2001;285(3):320-3.
American Cancer Society. Available at: www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_are_the_key_statistics_for_breast_cancer_5.asp?sitearea=. Accessed February 28, 2007.
- Cooper C, Atkinson EJ, O’Fallon WM, Melton LJ III 1992 Incidence of clinically diagnosed vertebral fractures: A population-based study in Rochester, Minnesota, 1985-1989. J Bone Miner Res 7:221-227.
Disclosure: an asterisk (*) denotes that some/all of the authors are paid Medtronic consultants. A cross (†) indicates that research cited may have been funded partially, or in whole, by Medtronic.