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Although you can’t feel your bones getting weaker, you might feel a spinal fracture when it occurs. Sudden and severe pain, out of proportion to the activity at hand, is a hallmark sign of a spinal fracture.

For most of us, the thought of breaking a bone during normal, non-strenuous activity is difficult to imagine. Many patients mistakenly attribute the pain of a spinal fracture to a muscle strain or "bad back." Further complicating the issue is that spinal fractures often occur with only mild, or even indiscernible, pain.

Symptoms commonly associated with spinal fractures that are caused by osteoporosis or cancer include:

  • Sudden onset of back pain, unrelated or out of proportion to activity
  • Pain worsens with sitting or standing
  • Pain is often relieved by lying down

If you have a spinal fracture that has not been diagnosed or has been treated without surgical intervention, be advised that the bone usually heals in its fractured position. This can alter the shape of your spine. For example, you or someone else may notice that:

  • You are shorter than you used to be
  • Your spine is curved forward (commonly called a dowager’s hump)
  • Your clothing doesn’t fit properly  

A spinal deformity such as described has been shown to negatively affect health and quality of life. [21,22,51,52,64,67] Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can repair spinal fractures and help you step back into life.


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Last update: 4/4/2012 © Medtronic Spine LLC.
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