A spinal compression fracture is a break in the bone that most commonly affects older people with osteoporosis. It can occur as the result of a traumatic incident, such as a fall, but it can also happen when a person is sitting still.
The most apparent symptom of a compression fracture is pain in the lower or middle back.
“I have had patients who say they have had lower back pain for months and thought it was osteoporosis or the result of aging,” says Brandon J. Scott, DO, neurosurgeon, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “Then, they undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and find out they have a compression fracture.”
Decades ago, the only options for treating this type of fracture were wearing a back brace or undergoing extensive surgery. Today, older people with compression fractures have another choice: kyphoplasty.
Kyphoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis. The physician makes a small incision at the site of the fracture and inserts a needle through that incision. The needle has a balloon which is inflated once inside the body to stabilize the bone and create space for the treatment. Then, the physician injects a cement-like liquid bone through the needle that hardens in just three minutes. The liquid fills in the space where the fracture is located, and the physician removes the needle. No stitches are needed.
“Though kyphoplasty does not completely heal the fracture, it stabilizes it, preventing further damage,” says Scott. “It also reduces pain. Ninety to 95 percent of my patients say they experience pain relief immediately after the procedure.”
For people who are too frail to withstand surgery, kyphoplasty can be exactly what they need. “Most of the people who suffer a spinal compression fracture are not going to be out running a marathon,” says Scott. “They need stability and pain relief, and kyphoplasty provides that. Additionally, it does not involve a hospital stay, which can be difficult for older people. Most of my patients who undergo kyphoplasty in the morning return home by noon that same day.”
For more information, call 573-331-3000 or visit Dr. Scott’s webpage.