South Texas Spinal Clinic
Orthopedic Surgeons and Physical Therapists Located in San Antonio and South Texas
Osteoporosis tends to sneak up on you because it doesn’t cause symptoms until your weakened bones fracture. The orthopedic surgeons at South Texas Spinal Clinic have years of experience diagnosing and treating osteoporosis, including teaching patients how to prevent osteoporosis-related fractures. If you have questions or you’d like to schedule a consultation, please call their office in the San Antonio or South Texas area, or book an appointment online.
Osteoporosis Q & A
James W. Simmons III, DO and Annette Gantz, NP-C are both Fracture Liaison Certified Specialists.
The South Texas Fracture Prevention Clinic has received recognition from the International Osteoporosis Foundation on their "Map of Best Practice" and we are the only practice in Texas to receive this distinction.
Both Dr. Simmons and Annette are certified Ambassadors for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "An NOF Ambassador is a well-informed, passionate, and often persuasive individual who cares deeply about those who suffer from osteoporosis. The role of an Ambassador is to help advise and support NOF leadership and to help make inroads in the medical, business and philanthropic sectors within their communities."
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Your bones stay strong by continually discarding old and damaged bone and replacing it with new bone. As you age, however, this process doesn’t stay in balance because you lose more bone than you replenish. That’s when osteoporosis — weak and brittle bones — develops.
Bones stop growing and reach their peak mass in your late 20s. Most adults start losing bone density around the age of 40, and the decline continues over the years.
Women also face a challenge at menopause because estrogen has a crucial role in regulating bone mass and strength. When estrogen levels drop, bone loss accelerates.
How Does Osteoporosis Affect Your Spine?
Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine, where thin, weak vertebrae raise your risk for fragility fractures. A fragility fracture refers to a bone that breaks under forces that would not be strong enough to harm a healthy bone.
Osteoporosis also increases the chance of developing multiple compression fractures in your spine. This condition develops when vertebrae fracture and collapse because they’re weak due to osteoporosis. Two primary symptoms are associated with vertebral compression fractures:
- Height Loss: As vertebrae compress or cave in, each bone loses about 15%-20% of its height. With successive compression fractures, you’ll lose a noticeable amount of height. As the bones compress, their supporting muscles are also affected, which may cause ongoing pain after the bone fracture heals.
- Thoracic Kyphosis (Dowager's Hump): Compression fractures tend to occur in the front of each vertebra, so the height at the back of the bone stays the same. With multiple compression fractures, the spine bends forward, causing a hunched appearance.
How is Osteoporosis Treated?
Conservative treatment for osteoporosis includes medications that slow down or prevent bone loss, exercises that strengthen bones, and dietary changes or additional supplements to replace nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Surgical intervention can also help because two advanced vertebral augmentation procedures are available, and they’re both minimally invasive options:
- Vertebroplasty: Vertebroplasty stabilizes a spinal fracture by injecting acrylic bone cement into the fractured vertebra.
- Kyphoplasty: Using a needle, a small medical device called a balloon tamp is inserted into the fractured vertebra. The balloon is inflated to restore the normal height of the bone, then the balloon is removed and the cavity is filled with bone cement.
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