Preservation and New Treatments
Your Body in Bones
The adult human skeletal system consists of 206 internal bones along with a network of tendons, ligaments and cartilage that connect them together. The axial skeleton has a total of 80 bones consisting of the vertebral column, the rib cage and skull. Each of your 33 vertebrae has its own unique job to perform to protect your spinal column from injury and keep you healthy, upright and mobile. Your skeletal system performs vital functions – support, movement, protection, blood cell production, calcium storage and endocrine regulation – all of these functions enable us to survive.
Bones are very much alive inside our bodies. They are fed by a network of blood vessels from the circulatory system and nerves from the nervous system. Bones consist of several layers. The outer layer is a dense tough layer over a layer of spongy bone which is lighter and flexible. In the middle of many bones is a jelly-like substance called bone marrow where new cells are constantly being produced for the blood.
Diseases of the Skeletal System
The primary skeletal ailments are metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteomalacia, multiple myeloma and bone cancer. Bone scans, bone density tests and bone marrow biopsies are used to detect disease, deformities and diagnose cancer.
Osteoporosis is Greek for “porous bones”.
Osteoporosis is a common disease, particularly among men and women over the age of 50, resulting in the softening and loss of bone density, decreased bone strength and broken bones in the spinal column. As we age, our bones aren’t able to regenerate new bone as fast as older bones are broken down. When osteoporosis occurs, bones lose calcium, become weak, thin and brittle before our bodies are able to regenerate new bone.
Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women who are past menopause are at the highest risk.
Osteoporosis may occur as a result of lower than normal peak bone mass and greater than normal bone loss. Bone loss naturally increases after menopause in women due to lower levels of estrogen. Certain medications and diseases can also contribute to its occurrence. Osteoporosis is defined as a bone density of 2.5 standard deviations below that of a young adult.
Weakened vertebrae can also lead to cracks, fractures and even vertebral collapse, most commonly known as vertebral compression fractures (VCF). Chronic back pain results when these problems occur in your spinal column and vertebrae.
Vertebral compression fractures range from mild to severe. More severe fractures can cause significant pain leading to life-threatening declines in health due to inactivity. Often times, patients have suffered a bone fracture or even multiple bone fractures in their spine and don’t even realize it.
One third of vertebrae compression fractures go undiagnosed as many patients expect back pain as a normal part of aging.
Prevention & New Treatments for Osteoporosis with VCFs
Prevention of osteoporosis includes a proper diet during childhood and efforts to avoid medications that cause the condition. Efforts to prevent broken bones in those with osteoporosis include a good diet, exercise and fall prevention.
Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) caused by osteoporosis are most commonly diagnosed by a physical exam, x-rays, CT or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty are minimally-invasive outpatient interventional radiology procedures used to repair broken vertebrae and restore mobility, height and quality of life in osteoporosis patients.
Osteoporosis affects 15% of adults in their 50’s and 70% of adults by 80 years of age
The the Spine Fracture Center now offers two minimally-invasive treatments for Spinal Compression Fractures: Vertebroplasty and Kyphon® Balloon Kyphoplasty.
You do not have to feel alone during this time. The team at the Spine Fracture Center truly cares about you and your unique situation and is here to help. Please contact the the Spine Fracture Center for a physician consultation to discuss the risks and whether an interventional radiology procedure is right for you.