Osteoporosis - Introduction
It is a general disease, so it may affect every bone in the body. Some bones, such as the wrist bones, the thigh bones and the spine bones, however, are more prone to develop symptoms or to fracture due to their anatomical structure and mechanical exposure to more heavy loads.
Vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis can give rise to a sudden onset of pain. The patient feels a sudden sharp pain (often associated with a “crack” in the back). It is usually worse during activities and reduced at rest. An X-ray or magnetic resonance scan (MRI) can confirm if there is a fractured vertebra. Vertebral fractures can result in serious consequences, including loss of height, intense back pain and deformity. Often this gets better within 3-12 weeks as the fracture heals, and there are no ill effects. Sometimes the fracture is slow to heal and persistent pain and reduced physical activity occurs with secondary effects such as negative self-esteem.
Due to the self-healing ability of the spine, “silent” fractures are not uncommon: after a period of back pain, the patient improves with time and forgets about the episode. X-rays, performed for other reasons at a later date may reveal the fracture site, now without symptoms.