What are the signs and symptoms of vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019
  • Author: Monique Bethel, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Osteoporosis generally does not become clinically apparent until a fracture occurs. Two thirds of vertebral fractures are painless. Typical findings in patients with painful vertebral fractures may include the following:

  • The episode of acute pain may follow a fall or minor trauma.

  • Pain is localized to a specific, identifiable, vertebral level in the midthoracic to lower thoracic or upper lumbar spine.

  • The pain is described variably as sharp, nagging, or dull; movement may exacerbate pain; in some cases, pain radiates to the abdomen.

  • Pain is often accompanied by paravertebral muscle spasms exacerbated by activity and decreased by lying supine.

  • Patients often remain motionless in bed because of fear of exacerbating the pain.

  • Acute pain usually resolves after 4-6 weeks; in the setting of multiple fractures with severe kyphosis, the pain may become chronic.


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