Planning for Your Recovery from a Spinal-Compression Injury When You Have Osteoporosis

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If you suffer from osteoporosis and have recently experienced a spinal-compression fracture, you are likely to be in significant pain and be worried about your recovery. Given that worldwide, one out of three women and one out of five men over the age of fifty will develop a bone fracture that is related to osteoporosis during their lifetimes, it is important to note that you are not alone with this problem. Fortunately, the majority of people who experience a spinal-compression fracture will go on to recover, and it is a good idea to discuss your treatment choices with your treating physician.

Understanding the Underlying Problem

It will first be necessary to understand that the thinning of the bone that is osteoporosis is a leading cause of spinal-compression fractures. That means that in order to recover from your current fracture and prevent a similar injury from occurring again in the future, adequately treating the osteoporosis will be an essential part of your treatment plan. 

In order to do that, your physician may recommend the use of a medication to restore the bone strength. These medications exist to either reverse the bone loss and re-strength the area in question or to stabilize it. You will need follow-up care over time to determine the efficacy of the treatments.  

Treating a Spinal-Compression Fracture Without Surgery

You will probably experience muscle, nerve and bone-on-bone pain, which may cause you to need more than one type of pain medication. In addition to the obvious use of narcotic and over-the-counter medications for brief periods of time, you may also be advised to use anti-depressants. That is because anti-depressants have been found to have a positive impact on some types of nerve pain. 

Bedrest for no more than a few days, especially right after the injury, may help to prevent pain and allow the area to start the healing process. In addition,you will probably need to wear a brace to support the injured area, and that brace may need to be switched out with new units as the fracture heals. If you have complied with all of the advice provided by your physician, and the injury is still not fully healed, surgical intervention may be necessary, as explained below. In addition, surgery will usually be needed in certain emergency situations, including urinary or fecal incontinence that occurs soon after the injury

Correcting a Spinal-Compression Fracture with Surgery

If the pain of your spinal-compression fracture continues, or if your injury develops into an emergency situation, it may be time to discuss the possibility of surgery with your doctor. It is often possible to treat the problem with a minimally invasive procedure, which may allow you to recover faster. Two common surgical options include the anterior or posterior approach and the determination of an appropriate choice will usually be based on the location and severity of the fraction. 

For example, the damaged area will typically need the presence of rods or plating to provide the necessary support. If the injury occurred to one or more of the upper vertebrae, you should expect to undergo an anterior procedure to mobilize the diaphragm in order to prevent new problems from occurring. Similarly, damage to the lower portions of your spine will usually benefit from a posterior procedure due to the better access a surgeon will have to the area.  

Knowing What to Expect After Your Treatment

Physical, occupational and recreational therapy will frequently be needed after a spinal-compression  injury, regardless of how it was treated. Your level of disability, your pain and your stage of recovery will impact the type and amount of therapy you need. At that time, your goals for therapy and a personalized care plan will allow you to be proactive in your own recovery and have a reasonable expectation of the expected outcome. Therefore, effective communication between you and all of your healthcare providers will be essential.

In conclusion, your recovery from spinal compression is likely to involve multiple treatments over a significant period of time. Therefore, the above information will be useful to know as you discuss your treatment plan with your doctor.

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