Osteoporosis and Spinal Fracture
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, or have a family history of osteoporosis, you have an increased risk for spinal fracture. Osteoporosis is one of the most common causes of spinal fracture in adults.1
How Does Osteoporosis Cause Spinal Fracture?
Osteoporosis disrupts the normal breakdown and rebuilding of bone. This causes bone breakdown to exceed bone repair, which results in loss of bone mass (total amount of bone) and loss of bone quality (how the bone is structured). Over time, this imbalance causes the areas of weak bone to accumulate, increasing your risk for spinal fracture.
Spinal fractures may have profound effects on your health and quality of life. If you’re at risk for spinal fracture, talk to your doctor now about your treatment options, as well as how to prevent or delay spinal fracture.
Does Osteoporosis Have Symptoms?
Osteoporosis is not a disease to be taken lightly. Often referred to as "the silent thief," osteoporosis robs its victims of healthy bone, progressing without symptoms until the bone is weak enough to result in a spinal compression fracture.
Your doctor may test you for osteoporosis as a precautionary measure once you reach age 50. There are various prevention measures and medications that can be taken to slow down the weakening of bones.
Why is Osteoporosis More Common in Older Women?
Bone loss is accelerated in older women because estrogen levels decline at the start of menopause. In addition, women usually have smaller bones than men to begin with, so it takes less time for women to reach a level of damage that weakens the bones enough to cause osteoporosis fractures. Of the 25 million people with osteoporosis in the United States, 80% are women.1
There are two types of osteoporosis, and both can increase your risk for spinal fracture:
- Primary osteoporosis is related to aging and menopause
- Secondary osteoporosis is caused by certain drugs and diseases that affect bone health.
What Are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
Some people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. Known risk factors include:
Prior Fracture—Breaking a bone in adulthood after minor trauma is a hallmark sign of osteoporosis.
Age—Our ability to produce vitamin D and absorb calcium declines with age, as do our sex hormones, all-important for maintaining healthy bone in both genders. One in two women, and one in four men, over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his/her lifetime.1
Gender—Women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men because they have smaller bones in general, and they lose bone mass more rapidly than men, especially during the first 5-10 years after menopause.
Medications—Steroids can disrupt the process of bone repair. Many of the drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, seizure disorders and gastrointestinal problems can also cause bone damage. Cancer treatments, excessive thyroid hormone, and even aluminum-containing antacids are known to damage bone.
Diseases—Patients with diseases that affect bone repair are at increased risk for osteoporosis. These include Paget’s disease, hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, diabetes and Cushing’s syndrome, among others.
Genetics—If a parent or sibling had osteoporosis or fractures in their later years, your likelihood for developing the disease is increased. Caucasians and Asians have a greater risk of osteoporosis than people of African heritage.
Body Type—People who are small-boned or thin are more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Diet—Low calcium intake as a child reduces peak bone mass. Diets low in calcium during adulthood affect bone remodeling. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia can reduce calcium absorption, as well as alter sex hormone levels and increase osteoporosis risk.
Vitamin D—People who grow up in climates where sunlight is limited for part of the year may have low peak bone mass as a result of vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight allows your body to produce vitamin D, required for calcium absorption. During adulthood, safe exposure to sun, or taking vitamin D, remains important for healthy bone maintenance.
Exercise—A sedentary lifestyle at any age contributes to the development of osteoporosis because bones require stress/load to become and remain strong. Use it or lose it!
Lifestyle—Smoking and alcohol abuse affect bone repair and thereby increase osteoporosis risk.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2010
- Kyphon data on file.