GPs should consider back X-rays more for finding fractures in spine

25 Aug 2017

Patients suffering from lower back pain with risk factors for osteoporosis should be referred for back X-rays as a way of improving identification of spinal fractures, a new scientific paper says.

The paper, written by Dr Emma Clark – a consultant senior lecturer in Rheumatology at the University of Bristol and a clinical advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society – says it is “vital” for health care professionals to assess patients for vertebral fractures because finding them at an early stage improves fracture prevention and helps with managing patients affected by the condition.

The article also says a systematic approach to finding more people with vertebral fractures would have the potential to improve bone health across the population.

National Osteoporosis Society Clinical Director Fizz Thomson welcomed the new paper.

“Identifying patients with spinal fractures as early as possible and starting them on a treatment path can prevent future fractures due to osteoporosis and improve quality of life. The National Osteoporosis Society has been working hard to highlight the importance of early identification and the views put forward in this new paper are a welcome step in the right direction.”

Dr Emma Clark said it was important to remind Health Care Professionals about the important role back X-rays can play in identifying those with osteoporosis.

“The importance of this article is that it reminds all health care professionals that back x-rays should be considered for some older people with back pain – particularly if they have risk factors for osteoporosis, or specific types of back pain – as they may actually have a vertebral fracture. The article also highlights important areas of research that are needed so that we can be more confident in which specific groups.”

Read the abstract

Find out more about vertebral fractures

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