If you’re suffering from back pain due to osteoporosis, there’s a good chance that you can find back pain relief with kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty. Both of these procedures are minimally invasive and very successfully used at Downtown Pain Physicians to relieve pain from vertebral compression fractures (VCF).
It’s important to note that these procedures are not just for people with osteoporosis, but this disease is the most common cause of VCF, making vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty in Brooklyn or NYC pain management center, a popular, non-invasive treatment option for osteoporosis.
What is Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
As mentioned, these two procedures are minimally invasive, but they are typically used after a patient first tries bed rest, using a back brace, and some medications but finds that they offer little to no relief. If it’s determined that a patient is a good candidate, then vertebroplasty may be prescribed and, in some cases, they will also do kyphoplasty with the vertebroplasty.
Vertebroplasty shores up the spinal column by injecting a medical-grade cement mixture into a fractured bone. During this procedure, our pain physicians will use fluoroscopy, which is basically an x-ray in movie form, to find the targeted vertebrae and insert a hollow needle which will be used to inject the cement mixture.
If your doctor believes you also need kyphoplasty, this procedure involves using a balloon prior to vertebroplasty to create a larger cavity for the injection. The balloon is inflated, opening up the spine, then the balloon is deflated and removed so the vertebroplasty can begin.
Who Needs Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty Procedures?
When the vertebrae along the spine become fractured the spine is compressed, which causes pain. Osteoporosis is a disease that results in the loss of normal bone density, mass, strength, and creates porosity. This makes the vertebrae especially vulnerable to breaks. But it’s not the only condition that can cause a vertebra in the spine to break, cancer can weaken bones, cancer treatments can also cause weakness, people with hyperthyroidism are at greater risk of bone breakage, as are people with a history of long-term corticosteroid use.
Other people who may be considered great candidates for pain relief from vertebroplasty include the elderly, people who have impaired bone healing after a fracture, vertebral compression due to malignant tumors, or people who have metabolic disorders that have caused bone weakening.
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How Do I Know If I Should Have Vertebroplasty?
This procedure is minimally invasive and has great successful results, but it’s important to visit one of our doctors first and have a thorough examination to make sure you’re a good candidate for vertebroplasty.
During that visit, your evaluation may include:
- Complete health history
- A physical exam
- Diagnostic imaging
- Spine x-rays
- Blood tests
- Radioisotope bone scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT)
During your visit, it’s important to tell the doctor about your history and symptoms and to relay information about all of the medications you take, even supplements.
How to Prepare for Vertebroplasty
Whether you are having kyphoplasty before your vertebroplasty or not, the preparation is the same.
At our NYC and Brooklyn pain clinic, we understand that each patient is unique and has their own health history and concerns. Because we treat each person on an individual basis, there may be some specific instructions for you that aren’t listed below.
The following vertebroplasty preparation guidelines are meant as basic instructions and you should follow your customized procedure preparation list.
- Arrange to have transportation home (you should not drive the rest of that day)
- Stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and/or blood thinners
- No food or beverages for six hours before the procedure
- If you are allowed to take medications before the procedure, take with small sips of water
- Blood tests
- Radioisotope bone scan
- Wear clothing that is easy to don and doff, a button or zip front shirt is recommended
- Plan to rest the remainder of the day and not drive, operate heavy equipment, or make important decisions
What to Expect During a Vertebroplasty
You will be asked to lie on your stomach and your doctor will numb the area of the injection with a local anesthetic. A very small incision is made and, using fluoroscopy, a hollow needle will be guided to the appropriate vertebra. If kyphoplasty is required, this will first be passed through the needle and inflated to open a larger cavity in the vertebra and to relieve pressure on nerves. Following this, the vertebroplasty begins and the cement mixture is injected into the vertebra.
These procedures can both be done as outpatient procedures, meaning that most people will not have hospital stays after their vertebroplasty. There may be cases where hospital care is required, but this depends on your individual situation and the level of your bone fracture(s).
During the procedure, you may be attached to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and pulse. You may also be given an intravenous sedative to help you relax. Some patients require general anesthesia, and again, this will be decided on an individual basis.
For most uncomplicated cases, the procedure takes about an hour, and you can go home after the recovery team has decided you’re doing okay. There are typically no stitches so healing time is fairly quick.
Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty Aftercare
Most patients can be driven (no driving for the patient) home after the procedure and it’s recommended that they spend the rest of the day relaxing. No driving, operating heavy equipment, and we recommend that you avoid making any important decisions.
Pain relief may be immediate, but it typically takes a few days for it to be reduced or eliminated entirely. Pain from the procedure can be relieved with a wrapped ice pack applied to the incision site for about 15 minutes each hour. Try to leave the bandage in place for 48 hours and avoid getting it wet so the skin can heal properly, and you reduce the risk of infection.
Most patients are cleared for normal daily activities after 24-48 hours, but your doctor may tell you to avoid heavy lifting and exertion for several weeks. Even then, it’s best to ease into more strenuous activities to avoid potential injury.