As your body develops, new bone grows as old bone breaks down. At about 40 years of age, your bones gradually lose density as there is less bone growth and more breaking down of bone. This is when osteoporosis can weaken bones causing them to break more easily.

Often bones weakened by osteoporosis fracture while doing normal daily activities such as reaching or twisting, lifting or even sneezing.

What are the symptoms of osteoporotic vertebral fractures?

Sudden back pain that gets worse when standing or sitting for long periods is the most common symptom of osteoporotic fractures. The pain is usually relieved by lying down. Some patients also experience a curving or a forward bend to the spine. Height loss and limited mobility can also occur.

Your consultant may order an x-ray or MRI scan to confirm their diagnosis. They may also recommend a bone density scan to assess your level of bone loss.

How are osteoporotic vertebral fractures treated?

Initially your consultant may recommend nonsurgical treatment including rest, pain relief medication or a back brace. Recovery can take 6-8 weeks.

If your fracture does not respond to nonsurgical treatment your surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure to help mend the fracture and stabilise your spine. Two minimally invasive procedures are:

Your consultant will also want to treat your osteoporosis to prevent any further injuries.