Women Underestimate Their Risk of Spinal Fractures from Osteoporosis, Reveals a Spine-health.com Study
The study, based on a recent survey conducted on www.spine-health.com, showed that only 48% of women over age 50 thought they were at risk, but 98% actually had more than one risk factor for a spinal fracture due to osteoporosis (n = 594).
Why would women not consider themselves at risk for a spinal fracture from osteoporosis? Three main reasons: Symptoms from a spinal fracture are often thought to be just general back pain due to aging and, therefore, are not diagnosed; some people with spinal fractures don't experience any pain at all; and many people are not aware of the risk factors for sustaining a spinal fracture from osteoporosis.
"This poll indicates that even with the efforts of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and other organizations to better educate the public about osteoporosis-related fractures, significant work remains to help patients and their doctors proactively identify and discuss potential risk factors for painful and debilitating fractures," said Dr. Scott D. Boden, Director of the Emory Spine Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Medical Advisor to Spine-health.com.
Spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis are quite common. One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime, and more spinal fractures occur than hip, wrist or pelvic fractures. Left untreated, vertebral fractures can lead to continued pain, decreased physical function, spinal deformity (e.g. dowager's hump), and even increased mortality rates.
It is important for people, especially postmenopausal women over age 50, to know their individual risk. Having osteoporosis or a family history of osteoporosis, height loss, and low bone mineral density may indicate an increased risk. In addition, lifestyle factors such as smoking, inactivity, or a diet low in calcium can increase the risk for spinal fractures.
Individuals who suspect they have a spinal fracture from osteoporosis should seek appropriate treatment. The spinal fracture itself should be addressed, as well as the underlying condition of osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about how you can improve your bone health and reduce your risk for future fractures through a combination of medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.
Further information on osteoporosis and spinal fractures can be viewed at www.spine-health.com/Osteoporosis, www.spinalfracture.com, and www.nof.org.
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Posted: May 2008