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B. What You Should Know about Spinal Fractures

Narrator: This is Science Today. Believe it or not, about two-thirds of spinal fractures are painless. When the vertebrae that make up the spine start to break, they break by becoming compressed. And while this may not hurt, studies indicate people who start to have compression in the spine are much more likely to experience additional fractures. Dr. Steve Harris, chief of the University of California, San Francisco's Osteoporosis Clinic Programs, says the best way to find those subtle, painless fractures is to measure height.

Harris: This is a challenge to you. Think about the last time you were measured - what, age sixteen? It's not really standard practice to measure height in grown-ups, but I would really encourage you the next time you go in for a routine check-up, to have somebody measure your height.

Narrator: If you're a lot shorter than the height you've always gone by, Harris says chances are you're starting to shrink.

Harris: And this is really a call to action. It's worthwhile exploring to see whether your vertebrae really are starting to compress and that's easy to do on an X-ray examination these days.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.