How Does Osteoporosis Lead to Back Pain?

How Does Osteoporosis Lead to Back Pain?

Approximately 10 million people over age 50 in the United States have osteoporosis, with women accounting for 80% of this large number. At the core of osteoporosis is low bone density, which can cause problems throughout your entire skeletal structure. When the problem strikes the vertebrae in your spine, it can lead to considerable back pain.

As musculoskeletal and pain management experts, the team here at Interventional Pain Center, led by Dr. Sachida Manocha, is well-versed in the problems that stem from osteoporosis. From hip fractures to compression fractures in your spine, the loss of bone density can leave you vulnerable to a wide range of painful problems. 

In the following, we explore how osteoporosis can lead to back pain and what we can do to help.

Osteoporosis and your back

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the creation of new bone tissue doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone tissue, which leads to a loss of density in your bones.

While the bone loss that comes with osteoporosis is skeletal-wide — meaning it can affect any bone tissue in your body — the issue is more problematic in areas where your bones work the hardest and carry the biggest burden, which certainly describes your spine.

The 33 vertebrae in your spine are divided into five sections:

Of these areas, your thoracic spine is largely responsible for the support of your upper body and is the most vulnerable area when it comes to osteoporosis. When osteoporosis develops, you can sustain compression fractures in your thoracic spine. These fractures occur when your bones lose strength and, as a result, aren’t able to hold your upper body erect.

When this happens, the vertebra typically collapses on the inside, creating more of a wedge shape, which is why one of the signs of compression fractures is hunching in your back. While hunching is one problem, the back pain that can accompany a spinal compression fracture is also hard to ignore.

Treating osteoporosis-related back pain

If we determine that compression fractures are causing your back pain, we can discuss your treatment options. In many cases, a minimally invasive procedure, such as a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, is an excellent solution. Both of these procedures are techniques in which we restore height and stability to your vertebra using a specialized cement.

We also recommend that you turn to physical therapy to strengthen the supporting tissues in your spine in order to take the pressure off of your vertebrae.

If you’re experiencing back pain and you suspect osteoporosis may be behind the problem, the earlier we intervene, the better able we are to quickly remedy your discomfort. For more information, book an appointment online or over the phone with Interventional Pain Center today.

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