It’s never too early or too late to take steps to protect your bones, especially the bones in your spine. Broken bones of the spine are common in people with osteoporosis and often go unnoticed until more serious problems occur. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of spine fractures and take steps to prevent these fractures from happening in the first place.
Your spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae. The picture of the spine shows the different regions of the spine, from the bottom (sacrum) to the top (cervical). People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the upper (thoracic) spine. When these bones break, they can cause pain, height loss and stopped or hunched posture. These posture changes are called kyphosis.
When a person develops kyphosis, the posture becomes stooped or hunched. The back also becomes stiff and difficult to straighten. Bending forward compresses (squeezes) the front of the spine, making it more likely to break a bone in the spine.
Each year about one-third of all persons over age 65 will fall. Many of these falls result in broken bones. Some common causes of falls include outdoor and indoor hazards. Certain lifestyle behaviors can also increase your chances of falling.
Even with your best efforts to protect your bones, it’s still possible to break a bone. People most often break a bone in the spine, hip or wrist. But some people break bones in other parts of the body. These can include the ribs, upper arms, pelvis, collarbones, ankles and feet. Regardless of the bone(s) affected, recovery involves more than just healing the bone.
The following exercises promote good posture, strength, movement, flexibility and balance in healthy people as well as those with osteoporosis. If you’ve recently broken a bone or if you have very low bone density, you should discuss these exercises with your physical therapist or healthcare provider before trying them. Remember to avoid all activities that require bending forward from the waist or too much twisting of the spine.
Knowing how to move, sit and stand properly can help you stay active and prevent broken bones and disability. Proper posture can also help to limit the amount of kyphosis, or forward curve of the upper back, that can result from broken bones in the spine.