European conference discusses prevention of spinal fractures

At a press conference held in Belgium this week, the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the Belgian Bone Club and the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group called on healthcare professionals and health policy officials in Europe to take action to prevent spinal fractures.

Spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis are often dismissed as back pain or arthritis and remain undiagnosed and untreated. Even when referred to a doctor, only about 40 percent of older women with spinal fractures visible on X-ray are tested for osteoporosis, and the statistic is lower in men.

"It is essential that spinal fractures are identified and treated before further fractures occur," said Steven Boonen of the University of Leuven, Belgium. "Unless treated, as many as one in five women with a spinal fracture will sustain another within twelve months."

Spinal fractures can result in stooped back, acute and chronic back pain, loss of height, immobility, depression, increased number of bed days, reduced pulmonary function and premature death. These fractures also represent a socio-economic burden, as it is estimated that around the world one spinal fracture occurs every 22 seconds. 

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