Preventing Compression Fractures: Bone Health for Seniors

In this blog, we will look at compression fractures, including symptoms, causes, and what steps can be taken to prevent them by optimizing bone health.
Preventing Compression Fractures: Bone Health for Seniors

Compression Fractures in Seniors

As some people age, their bones can weaken, and compression fractures of the vertebrae develop. Conditions like osteoporosis cause bones to be less dense, and thinner. While both men and women can experience compression fractures, the condition is more prevalent in older females.

In this blog, we will look at compression fractures, including symptoms, causes, and what steps can be taken to prevent them by optimizing bone health.

What is a Compression Fracture?

A compression fracture is a hairline crack in the middle or lower part of the vertebrae, which are the bones on each side of the spinal column.

Senior with back pain

Symptoms of Compression Fractures in Seniors

Depending on the severity of a compression fracture, an older person can experience a wide variety of symptoms. Here are some common indications that a compression fracture has occurred.

Back Pain

Back pain is the most common symptom of a compression fracture. Discomfort can range from mild to severe, and appears suddenly. Usually radiating from the mid to lower back, the pain can make it difficult to walk or stand. Laying down normally relieves discomfort, as pressure is relieved from the spine.

Decreased Mobility

Compression fractures often cause mobility problems in seniors, as severe pain makes it difficult to bend, or twist the upper body. When walking, many people feel stiff and rigid because of the fracture.

Tingling & Numbness

Compression fractures can also lead to pinched nerves, which cause tingling and numbness in the back. In addition to severe pain, a pinched nerve can make it difficult to walk, and move the upper body normally.

Caregiver helping senior woman climb staircase
Bladder & Bowel Issues

In severe cases, compression fractures in older people can cause bladder and bowel control issues. Due to severe pain, incontinence sometimes develops, but normally goes away once a vertebrae fracture is healed.

Compression Fracture Management & Treatment for the Elderly

There are several ways a compression fracture can be treated to promote healing and pain management.

Older woman checking prescription with cell phone
Over the Counter Pain Medication

Many seniors have found that over the counter, anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are highly effective at temporarily relieving the pain associated with compression fractures.

Back Braces

Specially designed back braces can help relieve the pressure on the vertebrae, which reduces pain when walking. A good quality back brace will reduce the amount of spine movement when the body is in motion, relieving some of the discomfort a person experiences.

Vertebroplasty

A simple but highly effective treatment for compression fractures is vertebroplasty. In this minimally invasive procedure, bone cement is injected into the fracture by a very thin needle. The cement fills the crack in the bone, which will accelerate pain relief and healing.

Senior Bone Health – How to Help Prevent Compression Fractures

Here are some ways seniors can keep their bones as strong as possible to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Woman hugging her elderly mother
Portrait of aged man resting before breakfast in kitchen.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Use

Drinking too much can cause bone density loss, and contribute to compression fractures. Seniors should use alcohol in moderation.

Eat a Bone Healthy Diet

Diets rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep seniors’ bones stronger and healthier. Foods such as milk, egg yolks, leafy greens, tuna, and yogurt are great choices to maintain and grow bone density.

 Quit Smoking

Smoking and tobacco use have been proven to weaken bone strength and density. Quitting smoking for seniors is not only good for bone health, but also minimizes the chance of developing cancer.

Regular Check-Ups

Seniors should see their doctors regularly, as testing can reveal osteoporosis, and bone density loss. Optimizing bone health is much easier than coping with the aftereffects of a compression fracture.

A senior woman sits up on the exam table at a doctors appointment

Promoting Bone Health in Seniors

The caring and compassionate staff at Frontier Senior Living is dedicated to helping our residents stay physically and mentally healthy. Compression fractures are challenging, but maintaining a bone-healthy lifestyle can help prevent fractures from occurring. If you would like to learn more about our services, we cordially invite you to visit one of our beautiful properties, take a tour, and visit with our friendly staff.

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