For older individuals, experiencing frequent low back pain could turn out to be a sacral fracture. They tend to occur in individuals over the age of 60 often because there has been a degree of bone loss. Sacral fractures tend not to be the first thing doctors think of when low back pain symptoms are presenting. They are often not picked up on X-rays and are either not diagnosed early enough to take steps or not diagnosed at all. However, they are common.
The sacrum is shaped like a triangle and comprises five segments fused into one large bone. It sits at the base of the spine, between the two halves of the pelvis, connecting the spine to the lower half of the body. It stabilizes the body when walking, sitting, or standing. The nerves in the lower spine control the bowels bladder and provide sensation to the region.
Most sacral fractures result from trauma, like slips, falls, and automobile accidents. Stress fractures that happen without a specific injury are also called insufficiency fractures.
The most common causes for low back pain include:
For individuals that have been to a doctor and had an X-ray that reveals no fracture, and there is no improvement after 5 to 7 days, it is recommended to schedule another appointment and ask for a CAT scan or MRI, which is highly effective at finding a sacral fracture.
Treatment consists of resting the bone but still being safely active in most cases.
In some cases, if the bone does not heal correctly or some other issue, sacroplasty could be recommended. This is a minimally invasive procedure that injects bone cement into the fracture. It offers quick and long-lasting pain relief with a low percentage of complications. It is considered low risk and can be done by an interventional radiologist or spine surgeon.
To minimize the risk of a sacral fracture, it is highly recommended to maintain bone strength. This consists of:
Gibbs, Wende Nocton, and Amish Doshi. “Sacral Fractures and Sacroplasty.” Neuroimaging clinics of North America vol. 29,4 (2019): 515-527. doi:10.1016/j.nic.2019.07.003
Holmes, Michael W R, et al. “Evaluating Abdominal and Lower-Back Muscle Activity While Performing Core Exercises on a Stability Ball and a Dynamic Office Chair.” Human factors vol. 57,7 (2015): 1149-61. doi:10.1177/0018720815593184
Santolini, Emmanuele et al. “Sacral fractures: issues, challenges, solutions.” EFORT open reviews vol. 5,5 299-311. 5 May. 2020, doi:10.1302/2058-5241.5.190064
The information herein on "Sacral Fracture" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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