Spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis frequently remain undiagnosed since many physicians dismiss the symptoms as simple back pain or arthritis. This leaves patients at risk for further fractures and long term disability. If left untreated, nearly one in five women with a spinal fracture will sustain another one within the following year.
Author of “The Breaking Spine”, Professor Harry Genant reveals the serious impact of these fractures and calls on physicians to take action to diagnose patients and refer them for appropriate treatment. "Doctors must look out for evidence of spinal fractures, especially in their patients over 50 - stooped back, loss of height, and sudden, severe back pain are the three tell-tale signs.” Currently, only about 40% of women with spinal fractures visible on X-ray are tested for osteoporosis.
President of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, Professor John Kanis, claims, "These fractures must not be ignored. Their repercussions can be severe, resulting in stooped back, acute and chronic back pain, loss of height, immobility, depression, increased number of bed days, reduced pulmonary function and even premature death." In Canada, individuals who have suffered spinal fractures and are over the age of 50 face a one in six chance of dying within five years.
On a global scale, spinal fractures represent a large socio-economic burden. It is estimated that one spinal fracture occurs every 22 seconds worldwide. Studies have found that as many as 20-25% of Caucasian women and men over 50 years of age have a current spinal fracture. Costs associated with all osteoporotic fractures are predicted to rise greatly in the next several decades as the population continues to age.
President of Osteoporosis Canada, Dr. Famida Jiwa, concludes, "At least 2 million Canadians have osteoporosis and as many as 65% of spinal fractures go undetected - their devastating consequences are clear, and it's critical to pay attention to identifying them and preventing them.”