22 May Procedure Spotlight: Kyphoplasty
Back pain is well… a pain. Whether it’s a constant ache or a sharp jab, back pain can keep you from doing what you love. It can even keep you from doing normal, daily activities. If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Each year, an estimated 16 million people report chronic back pain. With those numbers, it’s not surprising that many people consider back pain a normal part of life. But it doesn’t have to be. Learn more about kyphoplasty and how it can treat some types of back pain.
WHAT IS KYPHOPLASTY?
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to correct compression fractures in the back. It is an x-ray guided procedure performed by a board-certified doctor. Before its use, vertebroplasty was the standard treatment for correcting fractures in the 1980s. This procedure injected cement into the spine to correct breaks. It relieved pain, but the vertebrae remained misshapen. After about a decade of using vertebroplasty, surgeons innovated.
In the late 1990s, doctors worked to combine the use of vertebroplasty with a balloon technique. It’s about the size of your thumb and “inflates” the fractured vertebrae. This makes room for doctors to reshape the vertebrae before injecting the cement. This combination became known as kyphoplasty. Surgeons have successfully performed this procedure for the last 20 years.
What causes compression fractures?
Compression fractures are usually the result of osteoporosis. These fractures are common for older populations and are more likely to affect women. Compression fractures can happen from light exertion. Even from getting dressed or lifting a bowl of soup.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING KYPHOPLASTY?
Before kyphoplasty, you will have a pain assessment, or your doctor may refer you. These fractures do not always show up on x-rays immediately, so you may need more imaging. The entire process will take about 3-4 hours. This includes evaluation, sedation, imaging, procedure and recovery.
The procedure itself is quick—only about 15 minutes. You will be awake but sedated during the procedure and your back will be numbed. During the procedure, two hollow needles are inserted into the spine. Then, doctors use the balloon technique to lift and reshape the vertebrae. Once its reshaped, they use bone cement to glue the broken pieces together.
WHAT IS RECOVERY LIKE?
After the procedure, there is no extensive recovery period. You will lie on your back for a short period while the cement hardens. After that, you will be monitored about an hour, then can go home. You may experience some soreness for a day or two. You will also be asked not to lift anything heavy or do any strenuous activity for a few days. Like with all procedures, there are some risks. But these are minimal, and most are rare. Possible risks include:
- Embolism of cement [rare]
- Neuro injury/paralysis [very rare]
IS KYPHOPLASTY RIGHT FOR YOU?
Kyphoplasty may not be right for everyone. If you are young, this procedure is likely not for you. Most patients are 75-95 years old. Likewise, this does not work for all types of fractures. Kyphoplasty is specifically designed for compression fractures.
For those who qualify, it is a life-changing procedure. Most patients walk out of the office pain free. It’s best to have kyphoplasty as soon as possible after a fracture. This helps ensure that the doctor is able to reshape the vertebrae, which also helps maintain your posture. Since compression fractures don’t always show up on x-rays, it can be difficult to diagnose. If you have persistent back pain without a cause or experience a sharp pain, see your doctor as soon as possible.
PROCEDURE SPOTLIGHT: KYPHOPLASTY
Back pain doesn’t have to keep you down. With kyphoplasty, you can return to your daily life pain free. This minimally invasive procedure corrects compression fractures common in older populations. It’s a time-tested treatment that doesn’t require extensive recovery time. If you have chronic pain or would like to schedule a pain assessment with The Pain Management Group, please call 615.941.8538.
We are committed to providing holistic, individualized care and vow to treat each patient with compassion and respect, never turning anyone away. Our physicians are fellowship-trained pain specialists who utilize a combination of interventional procedures and medication management services to tailor a personalized care plan for each patient’s long-term pain relief.