Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Treatments Your Doctor Might Recommend When You Have A Postmenopausal Spinal Fracture

by Stephen Silva

Osteoporosis is a medical condition that often afflicts women after menopause. Your bones become so weak that they can break easily when you fall. While you may think of spinal fractures due to osteoporosis, other fractures are common too, such as those in the wrist and hip. Sometimes the fractures require surgery to repair and other times the fractures can heal on their own. Here's a look at some treatments for postmenopausal fractures of the spine.

Resting With A Back Brace

Spinal fractures often heal on their own over a period of a few months. Your doctor might give you a brace to wear during that time to stabilize your spine so it heals properly. You'll also need to restrict some of your activities so you don't make the fracture worse.

A spinal fracture is usually a compression fracture which means a vertebra fractures and loses some of its height and in doing so compresses a disc in your back. This usually causes pain in the area of the fracture. The pain may be controlled with pain medication, but if your pain is so severe that it limits your movement and your ability to go about your normal life, your doctor may opt for surgery to repair the vertebra.

Surgeries For A Compression Fracture

This type of surgery can sometimes be done with a local anesthetic and very small incision. This makes recovery much quicker. The two types of surgeries for compression fractures are very similar. With the first type, the doctor passes a balloon through your skin and into the space under the fractured vertebra. He or she is able to watch the process on a monitor without the need to open your back with a large incision.

When the balloon inflates, your vertebra is lifted to take pressure off the disc. Bone cement is then inserted into the lifted space to repair the fracture. The second surgery follows the same procedure of injecting bone cement under the vertebra, but there is no use of a balloon. When these surgeries are complete, you should notice a reduction in your pain and you'll be able to resume your normal activities as soon as you feel like it.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor might recommend physical therapy whether you have surgery or not. If you have osteoporosis, you are always at a higher risk of bone fractures, so you have to do all you can to avoid falling. Physical therapy helps with this by teaching you exercises that improve your balance so you can recover your balance quickly when you trip. Physical therapy can also strengthen the muscles that support your back which may become weak after your fracture.

In addition to improving your balance, exercising, and possibly taking medications to make your bones stronger, you'll want to fall-proof your home. Remove all trip hazards such as area rugs and extension cords so you can walk safely and not fall again and make your fracture worse.