The natural history of the osteoporotic vertebral fracture
The clinical picture of the osteoporotic fractures of the spine presents an heterogeneity in their intensity and duration. In 210 cases of osteoporotics with acute pain and radiological evidence of spinal fracture we separate their clinical picture in two groups. In Type I (121 cases) pain is acute and severe, improving gradually; the vertebral wedging is obvious from the beginning and remain unchanged. The duration of this event exceeds 4–8 weeks. In Type II (89 cases) pain is less and of shorter duration, but after 6–16 weeks a new attack of acute pain presents. This picture can be repeated for 6–18 months. Radiologically the fracture is not clear during the first attack but wedging gradually developed during the next months. Bone density of the lumbar spine (DPA) was measured in all cases. Type I had a significantly lower BMC than Type II. We suggest that patients with unclear vertebral fractures, minor symptoms and relatively high bone mass must classified in Group II and deteroriation can occur during the next months. Long term treatment and additional orthopaedic prevention is needed. In Group I a short term calcitonin treatment helps early relief and mobilization.
Key wordsOsteoporosis Vertebral Fracture Bone Density
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