About 10 million Americans aged 50 and older have osteoporosis, placing them at a much greater risk for spinal compression fractures. These fractures can not only cause considerable pain, they can lead to hunching and loss of height. Luckily, there are treatment options, and one of the more effective is a kyphoplasty.
As spine health experts, Drs. Boris Shwartzman and Do Chan, as well as the rest of the team here at Comprehensive Pain Management, have helped many of our patients to overcome the back pain and structural issues that come with vertebral compression fractures. We can do the same for you.
Here, we explore what we accomplish with a kyphoplasty so that you better understand this excellent treatment option.
When you have osteoporosis, which means you have low bone density, the vertebrae in your mid back can develop small fractures and cracks. While you may not be aware of the problem at first, the fractures can eventually compromise the overall structural integrity of the vertebra. At this point, the vertebra can start to collapse, usually inward, which can lead to hunching in your mid back, as well as considerable discomfort.
Compression fractures are fairly common — nearly one million occur each year in the US — and women are far more prone to the problem. In fact, some estimate that one in four women aged 50 and older have at least one compression fracture.
While age-related bone loss is the primary culprit behind compression fractures, they can also occur because of direct trauma to your spine or due to tumors along your spine.
If your compression fracture is causing pain and a visible deformity (the hunching we mentioned earlier), it’s time to explore your treatment options.
At our practice, we’ve had great success with a procedure called kyphoplasty which is designed to restore height to your collapsed vertebra.
When you come in for a kyphoplasty, we first have you lie face down on a table, and then we make you comfortable with a local anesthetic.
Once you’re ready, we use fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to guide a tube into your collapsed vertebra. Once the tube is in place, we thread a balloon through and inflate it inside the bony structure to expand the vertebra.
When we reach the natural height of your vertebra, we remove the balloon. Then we inject a cement-like substance into the space we created with the balloon. Once this cement hardens, it will stabilize your newly restored vertebrae at the correct height.
A kyphoplasty is minimally invasive, and we perform it on an outpatient basis, which means you’re free to return home afterward. Even better, it only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to resolve each collapsed vertebra.
While you can resume most of your normal activities after a kyphoplasty, we do ask that you steer clear of strenuous activities and heavy lifting for a month or two.
If you’d like to explore whether a kyphoplasty is right for your vertebral compression fracture, please contact one of our offices — in Attleboro or Franklin, Massachusetts, or South Kingstown or Warwick, Rhode Island — to set up a consultation.