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Healing My Thoracic Compression Fractures: the Fear Factor

Via waiting for friends on Las Animas Trail

I share my story with you because you might also be part of the silent epidemic of osteoporosis.

On April 25, 2019, I put too much pressure on my upper back lugging suitcases. No bueno!

I landed in the Emergency Room in Encino, CA, USA, with two upper back compression fractures. I described my healing journey and my healing discoveries in two previous articles. Today I am going to talk about the “Fear Factor.”

When I got back to Puerto Vallarta, I got a bone density test and learned that I had osteoporosis in my lumbar spine. Not my femur. Bone density in the thoracic spine is not tested. But thoracic osteoporosis is assumed when it shows up in the lumbar spine.

I share my story with you because you might also be part of the silent epidemic of osteoporosis. If you are 60 or older, you are more likely than not to have osteoporsis. If you fracture your spine, hip, or wrist. There is a very good chance that osteoporosis is the underlying source of your fracture.

Will I always be a Fall Risk? Should I stop moving?

I am in the 6th week of healing my compression fractures. I also have a plan to reverse my osteoporosis, but that will not happen overnight. See my previous article for details.

Now I am dealing with the “Fear Factor”. Knowing that I have lumbar osteoporosis. Knowing that I am at greater risk for future fractures. Knowing how painful and debilitating they are. I do not want a repeat performance, ever, thank you very much.

I have been wearing my amazing Frieda Kahlo brace and walking inside my apartment. But I have been very timid about walking outside my house. The cobblestones, the uneven sidewalks are daunting. Will I always be a Fall Risk? Should I stop moving?

I devised a plan to address my fear. I am using my brace and my hiking poles and ask my friends to walk with me. Thank you, walking buddies! You have opened up new vistas and new hope for me.

Strong back extensors can help prevent vertebral fractures. Even when you have osteoporosis.

I am overcoming the fear factor. My notice that my history of moving well and often serves me. I am moving with ease and resilience. There is light at the end of my tunnel!

I will keep moving, listening to my body. When my fractures are well healed, I will add prone back extensions to my movement practice.  The Mayo Clinic found that strong back extensors can help prevent vertebral fractures. Even when you have osteoporosis. Here is a basic back extensor movement that I will do. And so can you.

PRONE THORACIC BACK EXTENSION CHEST LIFT

  • Start on the floor, face down, on your stomach (prone).
  • Bend your elbows and stack your hands, palms down, at your forehead.
  • Breathe in. Breathe out. Become aware of your breath.
  • Lift your chest and your hands off the floor.
  • Stay out of your lumbar spine.
  • Stay here for 3, 6 or 9 breaths. Listen to your inner athlete.
  • Return to start and report, 3, 6, or 9 times.

Summing Up:

53 million men and women in the U.S. are at risk for osteoporosis-related fractures. Get a bone density test to find out if you are one of them. Awareness is the first step in addressing this issue. Then make a plan to improve your nutrition and your movement. Including back extensor strengtheners.

[Medical Disclaimer: This article is for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.] 

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