Talking to Your Doctor about Spinal Fractures
It's important to prepare for your doctor's appointment when you're concerned about osteoporosis and spinal compression fractures (also called vertebral compression fractures or VCFs). You want to leave the appointment with a better understanding of your treatment options than before you walked in. Your time is limited, so don’t hesitate to ask your doctor questions. To make the most of your time, come prepared with a list of specific questions to ensure that you leave as informed as possible.
Everyone should be concerned about their bone health, but there are those who are more susceptible to osteoporosis. Post-menopausal women, for example, are especially at risk. To learn more, read our article about risk factors for spinal compression fractures.
Bring a pen and paper to your appointment. Have your questions written down, and write down any instructions and answers you receive.
Questions you might ask your doctor:
- What is my risk for developing osteoporosis or spinal compression fractures?
- What are the signs and symptoms of spinal compression fractures? What should I be looking out for?
- Do I have any medical conditions or am I taking any medications that could increase my fracture risk?
- What are the possible complications of spinal compression fractures?
- What are my options for treating spinal compression fractures?
- What can I do to lessen my chances of developing osteoporosis or spinal compression fractures?
It’s also important to arrive at your appointment prepared to answer some questions from your doctor.
Questions your doctor might ask you:
- Is there a history of osteoporosis in your family?
- What is your history of back pain?
- Have you noticed any changes in your posture? Any hunching?
- Do you remember if a particular activity or occurrence caused sudden back pain, or did it happen gradually over time?
- How would you describe your pain—dull, severely painful, excruciating?
- Does activity make your pain worse? Is it relieved by lying down?
- Is your pain getting worse or better?
- Where is your pain concentrated? Does the pain radiate to other parts of the body?
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
- Do you have any numbness, tingling, or other nerve-related symptoms? Do you have problems with your bladder or bowels?
- When was the last time your height was checked by a medical professional?
It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications, and benefits of all your osteoporosis and spinal compression fracture treatment options with your doctor. Asking questions—and having thoughtful prepared answers—will help you best understand bone loss and allow your doctor to make the best treatment recommendation for you.