The Effects of Osteoporosis on the Spine

Osteoporosis is an age-related degenerative process through which the bones of the body become weaker due to a loss of density. This makes them more susceptible to fracture. The bones of the spine, also known as the vertebrae, are the most common site for fractures related to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can affect the spine in several specific ways.

Compression Fractures

Compression fractures are specific to the vertebrae and cause them to lose height. Not all compression fractures are caused by osteoporosis, but osteoporosis does put you at greater risk for compression fractures.

A compression fracture may occur because of a fall or other traumatic impact to the spine. However, if the vertebrae have become particularly weak due to osteoporosis, compression fractures may occur with normal activities. Compression fractures that do not result from trauma may be subtle at first. They do not always cause pain, and sometimes the first indication that something is wrong may be a decrease in your height.


Compression fractures of the spine can lead to kyphosis, a particular type of deformity of the spine. Pressure on your weakened vertebrae can cause your spine to slowly curve forward. As your vertebrae become flatter, your back becomes more rounded, giving you a hunched-over appearance.

As your back becomes rounder and your spine bends forward, it can decrease the amount of room in your torso and abdomen for your internal organs. Eating and breathing may become more difficult. Some people have chronic pain due to kyphotic spine deformity. Compression of the vertebrae can put pressure on the nerve roots, ligaments, and muscles. The tendons can become strained due to the pressure of trying to maintain proper posture.

It should be noted that the spine of the upper back normally has a slight curve to it. Kyphosis is a name given to an abnormally pronounced curvature. Another name for this condition is a “dowager’s hump.”

Treatment Options

Treatment options available for compression fractures or kyphosis depend on the severity. A compression fracture may heal on its own given time; however, chronic pain and serious deformity may require surgical treatment.

Surgery may not be necessary, though. A compression fracture may heal on its own with conservative measures. Medications may help improve bone density and prevent further fractures. Certain stretching exercises may be able to relieve back pain associated with kyphosis and improve flexibility of the spine.

Chiropractic care may not be the best solution for spine problems arising from osteoporosis due to the brittleness of your bones. However, a chiropractor can assess your condition, determine the cause of your pain, and suggest treatment options, which may involve a referral to a chiropractor, like a chiropractor in Glen Burnie, MD. Contact a chiropractor’s office to arrange an appointment today. 

Thanks to Mid Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for their insight into the effects of osteoporosis on the spine.