Patients' Guide To
Spinal Fractures & Kyphoplasty

Talking to Your Doctor about Spinal Fractures

It's important to prepare for your doctor's appointment when you're concerned about your risk for spinal compression fractures (also called vertebral compression fractures or VCFs). An integral part of your discussion should include bone health, specifically bone mass density and if you are at risk for osteoporosis. Your time is limited, but don’t let that hinder your ability to ask your doctor questions. You can make the most of your time and ensure that you don’t forget anything by bringing a list of questions with you—this will help you leave your appointment as informed as possible.
Male patient speaking with Female Doctor.Proactively talking to your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis and spinal compression fractures is a great way to protect your health. Photo Source: I Talk to My Doctor About My Bone Health?
Everyone should be concerned about their bone health, so proactively talking to your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis and spinal compression fractures is a great way to protect your health.

However, some people are more susceptible to osteoporosis—it’s even more important for those individuals to discuss bone health with their doctor as early as possible, ideally before a fracture occurs. Post-menopausal women, for example, are especially at risk. To learn more, read our article about calculating risk for a spinal fracture.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Spinal Fractures
You want to leave your appointment with a better understanding of your bone health, risk of developing low bone mineral density, and VCF treatment options than before you walked in—and asking questions will help you achieve that.

Bring a pen and paper to your appointment to make notes, write down any key instructions or answers from your meeting with your doctor. Also make sure to bring written questions—this will help you get the answers to all your questions before you leave.

Below are examples of good questions to ask your doctor about spinal fractures:

  • What is my risk for developing osteoporosis?
  • Is osteopenia the same as osteoporosis?
  • Am I at risk now for a spinal vertebral compression fracture?
  • Should I have a bone density test?
  • 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 prevent osteoporosis or VCFs?

Questions Your Doctor Might Ask You About Bone Health
It’s also important to arrive at your appointment prepared to answer some questions your doctor may ask you about your bone health. Think through these questions before your appointment, so you accurately provide all the information your doctor needs to craft the appropriate treatment plan for 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 (eg, 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 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?

You and Your Doctor Work Together to Protect Your Spinal Bone Health
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.

Updated on: 05/15/19
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Osteoporosis is a preventable bone disease. Even if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are steps you can take with your doctor's help to help manage low bone mineral density and prevent spinal fracture.
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