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Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures are the most common complication of osteoporosis (loss of bone mass) and can be a significant health issue leading to a lot of pain, disability and potentially serious complications. A fall, cough, or lifting of a heavy object may cause a fracture of the back bones. This can lead to sudden onset of severe back pain, lost of height, and a hunched-forward posture.These fractures more commonly occur in the thoracic spine (the middle portion of the spine), and lumbar spine (the lower portion).

Most compression fractures heal in 8 to 10 weeks. However, the time necessary to start feeling better can be quite challenging since pain usually worsens with any movement and sometimes even with deep breath or cough. This can lead to difficulty to perform even basic activities and desire to avoid moving around, breathing deelpy or coughing to clear your throat. All of it can lead to respiratory and other complications which are best to be avoided. If recovery takes too long or you can't tolerate pain with the fracture there is a treatment that can help.

At Advanced Pain Management Center Dr. Vladimir Fiks offers minimally invasive treatment, kyphoplasty which can be very effective in shortening the time needed for recovery following the fracture, reducing the risk associated with immobility and the burden on your life and comfort.

PAIN OF COMPRESSION FRACTURE

Compression fracture can present with very intense back pain which is thought to be caused by instability or motion of bone fragments at the fracture site. This pain if fracture is allowed to heal naturally can diminish in a few weeks but it can also last as long as 2-3 month and sometimes longer.

Traditionally, people with severe pain are treated with rest and/or activity modification, pain medications and braces. Your doctor will likely recommend additional medications to try to prevent subsequent fractures. Bone-strengthening drugs are usually prescribed to help to avoid or diminish bone loss (osteoporosis). However, it is important to avoid extended inactivity and if you are unable to care for yourself and each motion causes unbearable pain poorly relieved with medications you should seek advice of the specialist. You may be a candidate for treatment of the fracture through the outpatient procedure which is available at Advanced Pain Management Center.

KYPHOPLASTY

This is a minimally invasive way to treat a compression fracture which is indicated in cases of delayed healing or when the natural recovery process is poorly tolerated for whatever reason.

The way to use cement injected through the needle to stabilize fracture fragments and therefore eliminate or significantly diminish pain has been used in United States since early 1990s. Over time this procedure has been modified and improved and it currently stands as the very important and effective option for a treatment of compression fractures.

This is outpatient procedure which is usually done without a need for general anesthesia. Typically, local injection of numbing medication and some intravenous sedation is enough to keep you comfortable. Under X-ray guidance a small needle is inserted into the fracture and then a ballon is introduced through the needle. It is used to increase the height of collapsed bone and guide the cement into the space created. This cement hardens fast, it takes only minutes stabilizing the fractured vertebra. Pain relief can occur fast as well and commonly patients walk out of the recovery room feeling dramatic difference in how they fill. The recovery from the procedure itself is short, hours to just a few days and does not require special restrictions.

If you have been suffering from intractable pain related to vertebral compression fracture for more than 2 weeks and are looking for help we invite you to call our office for evaluation and discussion of appropriate treatment. We will identify options available to you and if necessary refer to other specialists as needed. This treatment is considered to be fairly routine and is covered by most insurance plans. I would recommend you consider this early as the chance of successful outcome diminishes with time.  

 

Author
Vladimir Fiks, MD Medical Director Advanced Pain Management Center and Cedar Hills Surgery Center

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