Dr. John S. Michels is an award-winning pain management physician in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. He is passionate about tackling pain and reduced mobility at its source with evidence-based, minimally invasive procedures that meet his rigorous standards for patient comfort, safety, and satisfaction.
Check these facts about kyphoplasty, how it works, and who benefits from the procedure.
What is a vertebral compression fracture?
Vertebral compression fractures occur in one or more of the vertically stacked, interlocking bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The vertebrae serve as load-bearing structures for your spinal column and provide a protective archway through which nerves (spinal cord) travel.
They also act as attachment points for spinal ligaments and muscles.
The leading cause of vertebral compression fracture is osteoporosis, which weakens bone and makes it vulnerable to fractures with even a mild bump.
Sometimes plopping down awkwardly on a chair or a sudden harsh cough is enough to crack vertebrae if you have moderate to severe osteoporosis. Traumatic injury and spinal tumors can also cause vertebral compression fractures.
When the vertebrae crack or fracture, they lose height and their ability to support surrounding spinal structures. The resulting instability leads to pain, decreased mobility, and other disabling symptoms.
Fortunately, Dr. Michels can restore spinal stability with minimally invasive kyphoplasty. But timing is essential, since the procedure is most successful before the bones heal on their own, generally within two to three months of a fracture.
How do I know I need kyphoplasty?
Back pain is the most common symptom of a compression fracture. Unfortunately, these fractures are often misdiagnosed as muscle strain or age-related degenerative changes affecting the spine.
But there are subtle differences in symptoms that may provide a clue. For instance, pain and stiffness related to aging discs, ligaments, or joints in the spine are typically mild initially and increase over time.
On the other hand, pain associated with a vertebral compression fracture is sudden and intense. Other symptoms include:
- Worsening back pain when standing or walking
- Decreased pain when lying on your back
- Height loss
- Decreased spinal mobility
- Stooped or hunched posture
Based on your initial evaluation, including X-rays or other imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis of compression fracture, Dr. Michels may recommend kyphoplasty to resolve your symptoms and restore mobility.
What can I expect during kyphoplasty?
Dr. Michels discusses the details of kyphoplasty before scheduling your procedure. Generally, though, kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that typically takes about an hour. Local anesthetic and light sedation prevent discomfort, and you can expect to return home the same day.
During kyphoplasty, Dr. Michels makes a tiny incision and inserts a tube (catheter) containing a medical balloon into the damaged vertebra. After gently inflating the balloon, bringing the vertebra back to its normal height, Dr. Michels injects fast-drying bone cement into the cavity.
Advanced X-ray imaging provides guidance and ensures accuracy during the procedure.
Once dry, which takes about five minutes, the bone cement acts like an internal cast, restoring normal strength and function to the vertebra. Next, Dr. Michels removes the catheter and closes the incision, typically with a small bandage or steri-strip.
Many of our patients report nearly immediate pain relief following kyphoplasty.
Schedule an evaluation today for more information about kyphoplasty or other pain management services Dr. Michels offers. Call our office or request an appointment online.