The Link Between Menopause and Spinal Compression Fractures

The bones that form your spine are known as vertebrae. Together, they support your weight, allow you to move your back, and protect your spinal cord and the nerves that branch out to the rest of your body. 

Unfortunately, if you develop a compression fracture in one of these bones, the bone may collapse and press against your spinal cord and nerves. This can lead to a number of symptoms, such as the following:

Each year, Americans experience approximately 1.5 million vertebral compression fractures. Not only are they most common in older populations, but they also impact 25% of postmenopausal women.

Vladimir Fiks, MD, treats spinal compression fractures on a regular basis at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon. Here’s what women should know about the link between menopause and these injuries.

Your spine and menopause

It can be surprising to realize that your bones contain living tissue. That’s how broken bones heal after all. But this remarkable ability doesn’t stop there. Instead, your bones are in a constant state of remodeling. Simply put, these cells are always absorbing old tissue and making new tissue, a process that helps you maintain your skeletal structure throughout your lifetime.

The problem is that most people reach peak bone mass around age 30. At that point, they often lose more bone than they generate. Unfortunately, when you lose too much bone tissue, you end up with osteoporosis — or weak bones.

While anyone can develop osteoporosis, four times as many women have this condition compared to men. That’s because going through menopause causes estrogen levels in the body to drop significantly, a change that leads to bone loss.

Approximately 700,000 Americans with osteoporosis experience spinal compression fractures each year. On top of that, having one compression fracture due to osteoporosis increases your chances of having more in the future.

Treating spinal compression fractures

The best way to avoid compression fractures involves treating and preventing osteoporosis. Dr. Fiks recommends working closely with your primary care physician to watch your bone density. You should also avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and exercise regularly, including engaging in weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your muscles and bones.

If you already have a compression fracture, Dr. Fiks can help with nonsurgical and surgical solutions. Common treatments for compression fractures often involve: 

Dr. Fiks also performs kyphoplasty in combination with vertebroplasty to restore shape, strength, and function of vertebrae. This minimally invasive surgical procedure takes less than an hour to perform and requires no incisions.

During your appointment, Dr. Fiks inserts a hollow needle into the fractured vertebra. He then passes a small balloon through the tube and inflates it, lifting your vertebra back to its original shape. 

Once Dr. Fiks restores the shape of your vertebra, he injects cement into the open cavity so it remains in the proper position. Finally, he removes the needle and applies a bandage to your injection site.

You can usually walk around within an hour of this treatment, but you may have some tenderness at the treatment site. Dr. Fiks provides detailed instructions for your recovery, including medications and supplements that can help support healing and reduce your risk of suffering additional fractures in the future.

If you have osteoporosis or a compression fracture, Dr. Fiks can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your treatment options. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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