Osteoporosis (os-t-o-pour-o-sis) is a disease that adversely effects bone density. It can cause bones to become porous, weak, and sometimes delicate as porcelain. Osteoporotic bone is especially susceptible to fracture. The type of fracture is diagnosed by x-ray. Treatment depends on the type of fracture and the location. Some fractures require surgical intervention and others require bracing to stabilize the spine. The first step is to stop movement to control and minimize injury.
When a vertebra fractures the body's first response is to begin healing. Initially a granular material called a callus is formed at the fracture site. Collagen (call-ah-gin), a protein is transported to the site through the blood stream. Collagen helps to mend and knit the fracture together. After new bone is joined with the old bone it is hardened through a process called calcification (kal-see-fi-cay-shun).
Plastics have revolutionized the brace and cast business today. Years ago a patient with a broken back had no other choice than to wear a plaster cast. Today, casts and braces are made from plastics and other materials. Braces are custom-fitted, removable, and designed to be comfortable. Today, most spinal fractures are more of an inconvenience than a tragedy.
This article is an excerpt from the book Save Your Aching Back and Neck: A Patient’s Guide, edited by Dr. Stewart Eidelson.