Hi Dawn: Usually a dowagers hump or spinal curve is caused by compression fractures of the spinal vertebra. Wedge type fractures cause very little pain and usually go undiagnosed until you have an x-ray or ct scan/mri that showes a recent or healed over fracture. There are other types of fractures that cause pain, so if you have new pain in the area of the curvature have it checked. Also, a loss in height along with the curve signals a compression fracture.
There are 2 types of surgeries that are done out patient that can restore the height to the vertebra and eliminate the pain. One is vertebroplasty and the other is kyphoplasty. Neuro/ortho surgeons and radiologists usually do this type of procedure which will also restore some lost height. Also if you have a fracture it can cause problems with your lungs and abdomen. When the spine curves forward from a fracture or other type of spinal problem it can compromise the expansion of the lungs and make it difficult to breathe, or cause your abdomen to push forward.
Aside from the spinal curve, pain, lung and loss of height-usually more than 1.5 inches-these are the only symptoms I can think of.
If you have any of these have your dr check it out, asap.
Hi Hypatia: No fractures don't show up on most dexa's. They can show up on CT, MRI's or x-rays and some x-rays won't show them either it just depends on the age of the fracture and size. I ask my dexa tech about fx's showing up on the test and she said no they won't because of the type of scan it is-but that was because they didn't offer this new test.
However, and this is important, some new dexa's run a VFA (vetebral fracture assessment) test, and I haven't found a imaging center that has that close by, but if you can find one they can tell you if you have a fracture, or your chances of getting one in the future, but it's a really new type of program that was incorporated into the newer scanners. Your best bet is to call around and find a place that has this additional reading with the dexa or just have one of the usual test I listed above, that looks for fractures, along with the dexa.
Good luck... I think if I could find a dexa that has this extra reading I would still have a mri/ct or x-ray just to make sure about a possible fracture, which is something I do at least once a year since I've had so many back surgeries and am starting to get the spinal curve.
You can also go to the ISCD (Inter. Society for Clinical Densitom) website and look up certified bone densitometrist's and whether a imaging center has this VFA test. You just have to put in the info for a particular area, name of dr etc and it will return some places that have it in the area you're looking for.
Here's the link to the page that lets you look up densitometrist's that are certified by this society and they are the most likely ones to have this new feature for fracture info. I recommend only using hospitals/imaging centers that have this certification for dexa's. There are a lot of below par imaging centers out there that you might want to steer clear of.