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Vertebral fracture: clinical presentation and severity are linked to fracture risk factors

Soto-Subiabre, M., Mayoral, V., Fiter, J. et al.

Osteoporos Int (2020).



Data concerning the association between risk factors of vertebral fracture and its presentation are limited. In this study, several fracture risk factors were related to the clinical and radiological presentation of vertebral fractures. The findings suggest that these factors should be considered in patient assessments.


The aims of this study were to describe the prevalence of fracture risk factors in patients with vertebral fractures (VF) and to analyze their association with VF clinical presentation and severity.


The study design was observational and cross-sectional. Patients were recruited between 2015 and 2018. Fracture risk factors were recorded, including bone mineral density, fracture risk assessment (FRAX) score, pain characteristics, analgesia required, and radiological features such as number, location(s), and grade of VF, affected segment, kyphosis angle, and spine deformity index (SDI).


A series of 422 patients was included (mean age, 75 ± 9 years; 74% women). Single VF was present in 59%, previous fragility fracture in 39%, and osteoporosis in 52%. L1 was the most affected location (28%); 38% had grade 2 VF, and 36% had grade 3. Acute onset back pain was present in 81%. Older age, history of previous fragility fracture, body mass index ≤ 20 kg/m2, low bone mineral density, smoking habit, and high FRAX score were significantly associated with the presence of multiple VF, greater kyphosis angle, and higher SDI. Gradual onset back pain was associated with higher SDI and irradiated pain with greater kyphosis angle.


Previously unpublished associations were observed between clinical and radiological characteristics of fragility VF and several fracture risk factors. The results could lead to a better understanding of the complex relationships between these risk factors and clinical presentation, and should be considered when assessing patients with VF.