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What are My Treatment Options for Osteoporosis Pain?

In 2018, about 10 million Americans suffered from osteoporosis, and this number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2020. Women suffer at a rate that’s nearly five times that of men. Not all osteoporosis sufferers experience discomfort, but chronic pain frequently accompanies some stages of the disease, particularly when bone density loss leads to fractures and structural failure. In this blog, John Regan, MD, of Spine Group Beverly Hills discusses what causes osteoporosis pain and how it can be treated.

Causes of pain

Osteoporosis itself doesn’t cause pain. If you were to view a cross section of human bone, you’d see that its structure resembles sponge toffee. There would be many tiny bubbles within the bone mass.

As osteoporosis develops, these bubbles get larger, and overall, bone density decreases. With this decrease, the strength of the bone decreases as well. Your body may no longer support the stresses that it once did. Bone tissue can fail. Compression fractures of the spine are the most common cause of osteoporosis pain.

Symptoms of compression fractures

Bones affected by osteoporosis are more fragile. Because of this fragility, your risk of a compression fracture is higher. A compression fracture is a fracture or break in your vertebrae. When bones of the spine experience a compression fracture, nerves that travel through the spine to the rest of your body may get compressed, a common source of chronic pain.

When a compression fracture compresses a nerve, you may experience neck or back pain. It may develop over time or it could come on suddenly. Movement could intensify the pain, though you may get partial relief when you lie down. Other signs of a compression fracture include:

Treating pain caused by osteoporosis

Because the bone condition itself doesn’t cause pain, much depends on the origin of the pain you’re experiencing. Drugs are usually the first step of treatment. Over-the-counter medications may provide some relief, but these can cause stomach irritation when used steadily over time.

Other pain treatments will depend on the type and location of the fracture. Compression fractures can be treated surgically to augment and stabilize the affected vertebrae. Kyphoplasty, for example, uses a surgical balloon to restore the height of a vertebra, which is then supported with bone cement. This can relieve nerve compression and thus eliminate the chronic pain. Vertebroplasty is a similar procedure that aims to stabilize the bone and thus relieve the pain.

To learn more about treating osteoporosis pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Spine Group Beverly Hills today.

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