Because osteoporosis is a “silent” disease, meaning that there are typically no symptoms up until a fracture takes place, it is not uncommon for somebody with back pain to be uninformed of the fact that he or she has really fractured a vertebra (or multiple vertebrae) in their spinal column.
Common Lumbar Spine Fracture Symptoms
The main clinical symptoms of lumbar spine fractures generally include one or a mix of the following symptoms:
- Unexpected beginning of back pain
- Standing or walking will typically make the pain even worse
- Lying on one’s back makes the pain less intense
- Minimal spinal movement
- Height loss
- Deformity and disability
As a basic guideline, a lumbar spine fracture ought to be presumed in any patient over the age of 50 with acute beginning of back pain. For women, specifically those with risk factors for osteoporosis, lots of physicians think that a vertebral fracture ought to be suspected in any women over age 45 with abrupt beginning of back pain.
Often a lumbar spine fracture in the spinal column might not cause any back pain or other symptoms, according to iytmed.com. For that reason, even if there is not back pain, midlife or elderly persons (specifically women) need to be concerned about potential fractures if there is height loss, restricted capability to twist and bend the back, and/or defect that develops in the spine.
Typical Progression of Lumbar Spine Fracture Symptoms
When osteoporosis leads to a vertebral fracture, it is usually marked by the abrupt onset of back pain. Many patients diagnosed with a lumbar spine fracture in the spine explain the beginning of pain immediately after a fairly regular activity that a little pressures or containers the back, such as:
- Raising – opening a window or getting a bag of groceries
- Flexing – choosing something up off the floor
- Falling – jarring the spine by missing out on a step or slipping on ice.
For people with advanced osteoporosis, the fracture can even occur with exceptionally minor activity, such as sneezing, coughing, entering or out of the bathtub, or just turning over in bed. The pain from an osteoporotic spine fracture normally lasts about 4 to six weeks as the bone heals, after which most patients report that the more severe pain has gone away and has developed into more of a chronic, throbbing pain focused in the area of the back where the fracture took place.
This pain will typically improve after a few weeks, however for some people it can continue for several months. Furthermore, some patients experience back pain long after the fractured bone has actually recovered due to altered mechanics in the back and possibly due to inactivity.
Other Types of Fracture Pain Patterns
The above describes the course of events that is experienced by the majority of patients with a vertebral compression fracture. Nevertheless, not everyone has a normal experience. Examples of other types of pain patterns include:
- If the bone collapses slowly rather than due to an activity, the pain will usually be more gradual and mild.
- Some patients with vertebral fractures report that they felt no back pain or other symptoms.
- For others, instead of pain the symptoms of defect that start to appear after multiple fractures might be the patient’s first indicator that she or he has lumbar spine fractures from osteoporosis.
Multiple Compression Fractures
Unlike numerous other conditions that can be treated before a serious problem establishes, normally a fracture is the first sign that someone has osteoporosis. By the time a fracture occurs, the osteoporosis is normally advanced and the person is then at risk for sustaining more vertebral fractures.