Spinal fractures and Kyphosis

Osteoporosis causes more than 700,000 spinal fractures each year in the U.S. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, this is more than twice the annual number of hip fractures.

Spinal fractures can also be caused by cancer, the most common being multiple myeloma. According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, in the majority of patients with multiple myeloma, osteolytic lesions develop which weaken the bone, causing pain and increasing the risk of fractures.

Some spinal fractures may collapse acutely while others collapse more slowly. Left untreated, one fracture can lead to subsequent fractures, often resulting in a condition called kyphosis, or rounded back.

Kyphosis, signified by the dowager's hump, can compress the chest and abdominal cavity, which may result in negative health consequences.

Risk factors for spinal fractures include:

  • Loss of height
  • Broken bone as an adult
  • Back pain unrelated to a specific injury
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • History of smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Small bones

Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology (c) 2004, 2008; www.SIRweb.org. All rights reserved.

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