International Osteoporosis Foundation seeks to raise awareness about spinal fractures

A new report issued by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) for World Osteoporosis Day draws attention to the severe impact of spinal fractures and calls on health professionals to recognize warning signs in their patients.

"The widespread under-diagnosis and lack of treatment of spinal fractures leaves millions of people around the world with chronic pain, deformity, disability and at high risk of future fractures," said professor John Kanis, president of the IOF.

As many as two-thirds of spinal osteoporotic fractures are not recognized by doctors. Left untreated, as many as one in five women with a spinal fracture will sustain another within 12 months.

"The Breaking Spine" shows the serious impact of these fractures and calls on doctors to take action to diagnose patients and refer them for treatment. Currently, only about 40 percent of older women with spinal fractures visible on X-ray are tested for osteoporosis, and the figure is even lower in men.

The repercussions of spinal fractures can be severe, and include stooped back, acute and chronic back pain, loss of height, immobility, depression, increased number of bed days, reduced pulmonary function and even premature death.