Donate to Osteoporotic Fractures Research, Patient Care and Education

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones deteriorate, lose bone mass and become more fragile as a result. When these bones weaken past their ability to stabilize, osteoporotic fractures can occur.  Osteoporotic fractures generally occur in the spine when the vertebrae collapse. Fractures can also occur in the hips, pelvis and wrists. Frequently, compression of vertebrae in the spine can progress over years without noticeable symptoms. If untreated, osteoporotic fractures can lead to full or partial disability. Ultimately, back pain and curvature of the spine begins occur.  Worldwide, nearly one in three women aged 50 and over and one in five men will incur osteoporotic fractures. Thanks to your generous donation, board-certified specialists at Northwestern Medicine continue to advance clinical trials and research to identify additional diagnostic and treatment options for those suffering from osteoporotic fractures.

Specialists at Northwestern Medicine have identified risk factors associated with osteoporotic fractures. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Low body weight, having a small frame, and physical inactivity
  • Tobacco and alcohol use, anti-epilepsy medication & steroids
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Lower calcium consumption
  • Low bone mass and estrogen deficiency

Bone density testing for baseline density readings for women that are premenopausal are strongly recommended. Additional measures to reduce risk of fractures includes impact exercises which strengthen the muscles surrounding bones. Should a fall or fracture occur and result in intense pain, see your physician for a complete physical examination. Board certified specialists at Northwestern Medicine are equipped with a multitude of testing options to diagnose osteoporotic fractures. These testing options include bone density tests, CT scans and MRI as well as spinal x-rays.

Treatment for osteoporotic fractures includes pain medication, external bracing, vertebroplasty and occasionally surgery.

Bracing is done to help with pain control for stable fractures or those at extremely high risk and unable to tolerate a surgical procedure safely. Pain usually improves in four to six weeks.

Vertebroplasty is used when severe pain cannot be controlled with oral pain medicine or the individual experiences loss of height in the vertebra. During vertebroplasty, a compound is injected with a needle into the compressed bone to try to stabilize the bone and improve pain. This hardens and stabilizes the fracture or collapsed vertebrae.

Osteoporotic Fractures Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Fractures, particularly in elderly patients, are most often treated with pain medications, calcium supplements and bed rest. Upon healing, physicians at Northwestern Medicine often prescribe physical therapy. The overwhelming majority of fractures will begin to heal within 8-10 weeks. Should the fracture be severe, surgical treatments are also options available to patients at Northwestern Medicine. Please consider making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation to advance prevention, diagnostic and treatment options for those suffering from osteoporotic fractures.

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