Understanding Surgical Options for Common Osteoporosis Fractures

Those with osteoporosis can fracture bones easily from a bump or fall, and due to the fragile condition of the bones in these patients, surgery is often required to help a fracture heal and prevent further trauma to the bone and surrounding tissue. Common areas of the body for osteoporosis patients to experience a bone fracture include the spine and hip, so here's an overview of the surgical options for fractures in those parts of the body:

1. Spine

There are two common surgical procedures used to treat spinal fractures, and both are minimally invasive. Vertebroplasty involves having a thin tube inserted into your spine to the site of the affected vertebra. Your surgeon will inject bone cement through the tube and into the fracture site to seal the fracture and stabilize the vertebra.

Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, but the tube that's inserted into your spine has a small balloon attached to the end of it. Once in position at the site of the fracture, the balloon is dilated to create additional space for the bone cement to be injected into. This technique is often used when a spinal fracture causes loss of vertebral height, which can destabilize the surrounding vertebrae and lead to back pain. Kyphoplasty can repair a fracture and help restore alignment.

2. Hip

Hip fractures typically occur where your femur bone fits into your hip joint, and surgery for hip fractures is effective and well-established. However, there's typically a long recovery period associated with hip surgery. The main surgical options for hip fractures include stabilizing the bone with metal screw implants and a procedure known as hemiarthroplasty. This involves removing the damaged femoral head and replacing it with metal, which can also provide some protection against fractures affecting the same hip in the future.

When a fracture is severe or the bone has been weakened by previous fractures, your surgeon may recommend a prosthetic hip replacement, which involves removing the entire hip joint and replacing it with a metal or ceramic-on-polyethylene replacement. You will require physiotherapy after a hip replacement to help the joint mobilize fully, and after an initial period of healing, you will be given some gentle exercises to do to restore strength to the surrounding muscles.      

Fracturing a bone is a common worry of those with osteoporosis, but surgery tends to generate a positive outcome. If you're facing surgery for a fracture, discuss any concerns you have with an orthopedic surgeon before scheduling your procedure and try to have some support in place to help you at home during your recovery period.

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