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

Updated: Aug 27, 2020
  • Author: Monique Bethel, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Osteoporosis generally does not become clinically apparent until a fracture occurs. Two thirds of vertebral fractures are painless, although patients may complain of the resulting stooped posture and loss of height. 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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