Over half a million vertebral compression fractures occur annually due to osteoporosis. Quite a few of these end up going unnoticed as they are asymptomatic, however, for those who have pain due to a compression fracture, there is minimally invasive treatment available.
Prior to the turn-of-the-century, most treatment for compression fractures consisted of spinal bracing that helped with pain control along with pain medications. The problem is that most people consider the brace to be extremely uncomfortable, and narcotics have significant side effects..
In the 1990s, the vertebroplasty procedure that involves minimally invasive treatment with bone cement was introduced to help with fractures from cancer.
This procedure is called vertebroplasty, and involves very tiny incisions for a metallic catheter to be placed into the fractured vertebrae. Fluoroscopy is used for the procedure, which is a real-time form of x-ray. The metallic catheter is placed around the spinal canal into the area of the fracture, and attempts to avoid any contact outside the bone.
Success rates for the vertebroplasty procedure have exceeded 85% and provide relief that is typically immediate. The bone cement that is injected hardens within 15-20 minutes and serves as an internal cast.
A variation on the procedure was invented about 10 years ago called kyphoplasty. It was actually FDA approved in 1998, but took a few years to catch on. The kyphoplasty procedure is very similar to a vertebroplasty. The initial portion of the procedure is the same, where metallic catheters are inserted into the bone fracture under fluoroscopic guidance.
Some Los Angeles pain management doctors use a catheter on both sides of the vertebrae, or others will just use one. Once the catheters are in place, the difference between a kyphoplasty and a vertebroplasty becomes evident.
With a kyphoplasty, the doctor insulates a balloon filled with saline in the fractured vertebrae. This creates a bony void in the fracture by pushing pieces of bone away from the center. The doctor is able to gain some height back in the compressed vertebrae and is then able to place bone cement under a much lower pressure than with a vertebroplasty.
The results from both procedures have been excellent with over 85% of patients getting substantial immediate pain relief.
Incisions for these procedures are tiny and usually involve simply a Band-Aid and often no sutures. Patients are able to go home the same day as the procedure since the bone cement hardens within a few minutes.
The risks of these procedures are small but real. They include a minor risk of infection, bleeding or nerve injury. Drastic nerve injury rarely occurs if the cement extravasates from the bone. As the cement hardens, it gets very hot and can damage surrounding neural elements. The incidence of this is well under 1%.
If you are experiencing back pain either in the mid back or low back, it could be due to a vertebral compression fracture. Especially if you are in a postmenopausal age range or a male over the age of 55. The California Pain Network connects individuals in pain with pain clinics throughout the state, including the best pain management Los Angeles has to offer.
Simply fill out the form on the page or call (310) 626-1526 today!