Osteoporosis Scoliosis and Scheuermann's Disease

While often back problems are caused by lifting too much weight, it is also possible for injuries to the spine to cause problems. One of the most common problems for seniors is osteoporosis related spinal fractures, which are the result of lost bone density. Scoliosis and Scheuermann's Disease are also common back problems.

Osteoporosis-Related Spine Fractures

Osteoporosis is a condition that is more common among women and causes the bones in the body to loose their density. Often, a poor diet with an inadequate supply of calcium and vitamin D is responsible for the osteoporosis. As a result of osteoporosis, a very small fall can cause a fracture. One of the most common fractures is a spinal fracture, although wrist and hip fractures are also common.

While osteoporosis is the reason the bones are weaker, another factor usually occurs which causes the actually spinal fracture. This can occur after a fall on the butt or some other type of trauma.

While spinal fractures are painful, it is often a very mild pain, so light that many people do not seek medical assistance. However, this is not always the case and it can also be extremely painful.

The most common treatment is to use a back brace and it is important to not spend more than a day or two in bed, as this can lead to additional bone loss.

Preventative treatment is the best option, which involves ensuring a proper level of calcium and vitamin D is taken each day. This is especially important for post-menopausal women, as the hormone changes increase the risk for osteoporosis.

There are also two types of surgeries that are often used. Vertebroplasty is one option, which involves injecting a special bone cement into the spine, which improves stability. Kyphoplasty is the other option, which is similar to vertebroplasty, except small balloons are used first to expand the spinal column. Then, bone cement is used. While these treatments are rather effective and safe, there are some serious risks involved with both.


Scoliosis causes the spine to curve, often resulting in rotation of the vertebrae. There are several factors that can cause scoliosis, but in many cases the exact cause is not known. In cases where the cause is not known, it is referred to as idiopathic scoliosis, which usually occurs in childhood or adolescence. In these cases, the spine was normal at birth and later develops scoliosis.

Idiopathic Scoliosis is much more common in females and is often passed down from mother to daughter. However, it is not generally passed to males.

Degenerative Scoliosis occurs in older adults and is caused by disc or facet joint degeneration. The degree of the curve is usually less than that of someone with idiopathic scoliosis, but it is more painful.

Another type of scoliossis, congenital scoliosis, is caused by defects that occur during pregnancy. This type of scoliosis is much less common and even though it occurs during pregnancy it is not usually passed down from parent to child.

Usually in the case of idiopathic scoliosis, the effects are minimal and there is little pain. However, as the individual grows into adulthood, the effects can be more painful.

In cases of idiopathic scoliosis, usually the first treatment is simply observing the scoliosis to make sure it does not become worse. However, in severe cases spinal fusion may be required. Lung problems can occur, which will require spinal correction and then fusion. Back braces may also be used, especially if there is a lot of pain.

Scheuermann's Disease

Scheuermann's disease results in an abnormal posterior curvature, which is called kyphosis, of the mid and upper back. The exact cause of this disease is not known, but it begins in childhood and in some cases is very severe. Sometimes, the individual will experience kyphosis without pain, but in others it can cause a great deal of pain.

Typically treatment starts with physical therapy and medication. The goal of the physical therapy is not to reverse the kyphosis, but instead to strengthen the muscles that support the spine, which helps with pain management.

If there is a great deal of pain and the disease does not respond to treatment, surgery is usually required. This is especially true if there is damage to the lungs or difficulty breathing as a result of the kyphosis. The surgery involves removing discs, releasing ligaments, and using bone grafts.

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