The bones in your spine are designed to withstand some degree of stress and strain from your daily movements—something they usually do fairly well. However, if the stress applied to a vertebral segment becomes excessive, as may be the case with a hard fall or a car accident, the excess stress could cause a break, or fracture. Discussed below are some of the possible risk factors for spinal compression fractures you should be aware of, especially as you get older.
As suggested above, age is one of the top risk factors associated with spinal compression fractures. This can happen due to a natural reduction in bone density that typically begins when you reach your 30s and continues later into life. When bones in the spine become more brittle, it takes less stress to cause a fracture.
Changes that occur with age in women, especially after menopause, can affect bone strength. Hormonal changes that happen later in life can also play a role in an increased spinal compression fracture risk for women.
Having a family history of compression fractures doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have the same issue with your spine. However, it does statistically increase your risk of experiencing bone breaks of this nature. This is also true if osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become abnormally thin, runs in your family. Your risk could be greater, though, if you already have a personal history of issues with compression fractures or osteoporosis.
Bones, including those in the spine, need sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D to remain strong and produce new tissue. For this reason, being deficient in either of these nutrients can boost your fracture risk.
Certain medications can produce side effects that may include bone loss. Smoking is also one of the other risk factors for spinal compression fractures due to the way smoking can slow down circulation. Reduced circulation, in turn, affects tissues that deliver nutrients to your spinal bones and joints.
Spinal compression fractures aren’t always entirely preventable. That said, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing spinal bone breaks. For example, if you’re not getting sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about supplements. You may also be able to reduce your spinal compression fracture risk by:
• Quitting smoking if you’re a smoker
• Maintaining a healthy weight or losing excess weight
• Opting for nutrient-rich foods and aiming for a generally healthy diet
• Getting regular exercise to keep soft tissues that support your spine strong enough to ease pressure on your spine
Back pain that gets worse when standing or walking is one of the signs suggesting you may have a spinal compression fracture. Your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon can let you know for sure if a bone break is what’s affecting your spine. Treatment typically involves rest, pain meds, and heat and/or cold applications. In some cases, certain surgical procedures may be recommended.
Whether you have a spinal compression fracture or another injury that’s causing severe neck or back pain, the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute can help. We specialize in a wide variety of procedures, including spinal fusion and Mobi-C disc replacement. Los Angeles residents can call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.