Patients' Guide To
Spinal Fractures & Kyphoplasty

Spinal Fracture Self-Assessment Tool

Is it just back pain or could it be a spinal fracture?

Proper diagnosis and early treatment are essential to help prevent spinal compression fractures (also known as vertebral compression fractures or VCF). But some people may not have any symptoms—and many times, a fracture is the first sign that you have osteoporosis. Plus, people often mistake spinal fractures for instances of back pain not caused by a serious disorder, and they don’t realize that they should seek medical attention or treatment. This questionnaire will help you determine if you should take steps to prevent bone loss and spinal fractures.

Questionnaire form filled in with yes and no answersProper diagnosis and early treatment are essential to help prevent spinal compression fractures.Do You Have Back Pain?
The symptoms of spinal compression fractures are often mistaken for back pain caused by a less serious spine disorder. A VCF may cause you to experience pain that developed suddenly and is severe, or long-lasting pain that came on gradually and described as dull or achy pain.

It’s important that you not ignore back pain, even if it seems ordinary. Your back pain could actually be a spinal fracture. In fact, it’s one of the primary symptoms of a fracture.

In most cases, pain from a spinal fracture lasts 4 to 6 weeks—about as long as it takes for the bone to heal. After that, patients often report that they experience chronic back pain at the fracture site.

If you’ve had back pain that’s lingered for more than a week, talk to your doctor about what could be the cause.

Are You a Post-Menopausal Woman?
Anyone can experience a spinal compression fracture, but post-menopausal women are at a heightened risk. Women lose bone mass at an accelerated rate in the first 5 to 7 years after menopause. Menopause causes a decline in estrogen, which is a hormone that protects bones. When estrogen levels decrease, the bone rebuilding process may slow causing loss of normal density making your spinal vertebrae prone to fractures.

Have You Gotten Shorter?
It’s important to pay attention to posture changes. A spinal compression fracture can change the normal alignment of your spine. Multiple vertebral compression fractures may cause you to lose height (shrink) and may alter your posture to a hunched forward appearance. As a result, you’ll lose inches in height. This is a hallmark characteristic of a spinal deformity called kyphosis.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you develop a hunchback or forward leaning posture because kyphosis can lead to health issues, such as chronic back pain and sleep problems. This condition can even affect your ability to breathe because an advanced forward curve of the spine can compress your chest cavity.

Answered “Yes?” Here’s What to Do Next
If you answered “yes” to at least 2 of these questions, talk to your doctor about your concerns and schedule a bone mineral density test. A physical exam, along with imaging scans and other diagnostic tests, can help determine whether your back pain may be due to a vertebral compression fracture. But even if you didn’t answer “yes” to any of the questions, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about preventive steps you can take now to ensure your bone health to avoid a spinal fracture. It’s never too early to start your osteoporosis prevention plan.


Updated on: 05/15/19
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What is a Spinal Compression Fracture?
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What is a Spinal Compression Fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is a type of spinal fracture affecting one or more vertebral bodies. Sudden and severe back pain is a classic symptom and causes include osteoporosis, trauma, injury and spinal tumor.
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