Height loss occurs in many people over time and often is not a health concern. However, if you lose 1 ½ inches or more of height, it may be a result of broken bones (fractures) in your spine. Spine fractures are often a consequence of osteoporosis. Multiple fractures of the spine can change your appearance by causing loss of height, a curving of the shoulders and back, and a thickening waistline.
You can have a spine fracture without knowing it. Some people experience no pain or symptoms and may not even experience noticable height loss with the first fracture, although others do. Early diagnosis and treatment of a spine fracture is extremely imporant since one spine fracture is often followed by more spine fractures. People with multiple spine fractures still may not experience any symptoms but others report height loss and chronic back pain, which is often due to the change in shape of the chest and back.
Height measurement should always be included as part of an osteoporosis risk assessment. For people who are able to stand, the best way to measure height is with a device called a stadiometer. An accurate measurement is taken when you stand in stocking feet as tall as possible with your head facing forward and shoulders back. A measuring tool will be gently placed at the top of your head to determine your correct height. It is important to have your height measured every year by your health care provider. If you experience height loss, it is important to speak to your health care provider to have an osteoporosis risk assessment and find out if a bone mineral density test is right for you.