Vertebral compression fractures, often a result of Osteoporosis, can cause pain (often without significant injury and which may be worsened by sitting or standing), increase spinal bowing and decreased height. Balloon Kyphoplasty, offered at Watauga Medical Center, may alleviate both the pain and the consequences of vertebral collapse.
Balloon Kyphoplasty requires only mild sedation, usually lasts about an hour, depending on the number of fractures being repaired, and is typically performed on an outpatient basis. Tiny incisions are made on each side of the spine through which balloon catheters are inserted.· These balloon catheters are inflated with contrast to restore the normal anatomy/biomechanics of the vertebral bodies as much as possible. The balloon catheters are removed and the remaining spaces filled with bone cement which serves as an internal cast. This stabilizes the fracture, and pain relief, often dramatic, usually occurs over the next several days.
In the past, treatment of vertebral compression fractures has been limited to bed rest, pain control and the use of back braces. While some patients improve with this type of conservative therapy, continuing pain is not uncommon. Additionally, this type of treatment fails to address the collapse of the vertebral bodies which can lead to adjacent fractures if left untreated and result in bowing of the spine, often referred to as kyphosis (often called Dowager's Hump). This bowing of the spine can cause breathing problems, difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and depression.
To reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D should be included in your diet as well as consistent exercise in a weight-bearing manner (running, walking and weight training). Smoking, poor diet, sedentary behavior and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk, Ask your doctor for specific recommendations to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
If you believe you have a vertebral compression fracture, consult your family health care provider.