Suddenly, it hurts when you walk or stand, you only feel better when you lie flat on your back, and you’ve lost some height. What’s going on? These are all signs of a fractured spine. Although a fractured spine can happen as a result of an injury like a fall or a car crash, or even from certain types of cancer, it most often occurs as a result of aging and osteoporosis (decreased bone density).
If you’re a woman past 50 and have gone through menopause, you’re a prime candidate for osteoporosis and spinal fractures. If this describes you, and you’re experiencing pain in your lower back, we’d love to meet you. Our team at Apollo Pain Management, founded by a veteran who’s no stranger to pain, specializes in getting to know you and your personal health journey so we can devise a treatment plan specifically for you. We don’t just treat your symptoms, we get to the bottom of your pain so we can bring you lasting relief.
A word about spinal fractures
If you’ve been in an accident, you know exactly how and why you fractured your spine. But it’s possible to fracture your spine without even realizing it if you have certain cancers or osteoporosis. That’s because diseases and osteoporosis deteriorate your vertebrae slowly over time. It starts with a few hairline cracks that get wider with time, then, eventually, your vertebrae collapse. Technically, it’s called a compression fracture because your soft, brittle bones give way under the pressure of daily activity.
Generally, the front part of the vertebrae shoulder takes most of the damage, because the backside is made of stronger bone. The result of several collapsed vertebrae is a misshapen spine or hunched posture.
The solution is a procedure called kyphoplasty.
Kyphoplasty is a way to restore your damaged vertebrae by injecting a solution that hardens like cement into your spine. With precise placement, the cement solution can fill in the space you lost through injury, osteoporosis, or cancer, and not only relieve your pain, but also stabilize your spine and restore your height.
What to expect before kyphoplasty
Once our team has diagnosed your spinal fractures through the use of X-rays and MRIs, and once you’ve decided to proceed with kyphoplasty, there are few things you should keep in mind as you approach the date of your procedure. Here’s a checklist:
- Stop smoking, as tobacco hinders bone healing
- Don’t use alcohol
- Halt your use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- Stop taking blood thinners
- Don’t eat or drink within six hours of your kyphoplasty
- Ask us any questions you have
What to expect during kyphoplasty
On the day of your kyphoplasty, we do everything possible to make you feel comfortable. Please feel free to talk to us about your concerns and ask questions; we’re here to help.
When your procedure begins, you’ll be on a comfortable bed-like table with your face down so we can access your back. We sterilize the area we plan to work on and administer a local anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain. We may even give you a light sedative to help you relax.
Next, we make a tiny incision that allows us to insert a narrow tube that’s guided by an X-ray scope. This helps us find the exact location of your damaged vertebrae.
Then, we insert a small balloon through the tube and carefully inflate it to recreate the space that was lost when your vertebrae collapsed.
In that space, we inject the cement-like solution, which is technically called polymethylmethacrylate. It quickly hardens and mimics your original bone structure and stability.
The length of the procedure depends on how many vertebrae require treatment. It generally takes about an hour per vertebra.
What to expect after kyphoplasty
After your kyphoplasty is complete, we like to keep an eye on you for a couple of hours just to make sure you have no reaction to the anesthetic and are feeling fine. You can go home the same day, but you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you.
If you’re like most kyphoplasty patients, you’ll notice immediate relief from the pain you had from your fracture. If not right away, then at least within two days.
Go ahead and resume your normal daily activities, unless, of course, that involves heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. Hold off on those things for about six weeks post kyphoplasty.
We like to see you again for a follow-up appointment a couple weeks after the procedure to make sure you’re progressing well and don’t have any concerns.
Kyphoplasty can be a welcome solution to your lower back pain. If you suspect you may have fractures in your spine, call us to set up an appointment right away.