Compression fractures affect the vertebrae in the spine. They may occur during a car accident or other traumatic injury, but most are an unfortunately common complication of osteoporosis, affecting up to 25% of adults over 50, according to some estimates.
John S. Michels, MD, is an award-winning pain management physician with a busy practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. Dr. Michels is well known for his expertise in treating acute and chronic pain conditions that affect mobility and overall quality of life.
Here’s what Dr. Michels and our team have to say about kyphoplasty and what you can expect before, during, and after this minimally invasive procedure.
Compression fracture basics
A spinal compression fracture is a condition in which one or more of the vertically stacked bones in the spine (vertebrae) collapse or become compressed. This can result in the loss of height in the affected vertebrae and may lead to pain, spinal instability, loss of height, and other complications.
These fractures are often due to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the weakening of the bones. In osteoporosis, the bones become more porous and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures, even with minor stress or pressure.
Treatment depends on the severity of the fracture and may include over the counter pain medications, back bracing, physical therapy, and/or minimally invasive kyphoplasty. Dr. Michels favors the kyphoplasty procedure for severe fracture pain since it’s quick and successfully relieves pain and other complications of compression fractures without extensive downtime afterward.
Kyphoplasty aims to restore vertebral height, reduce pain, and improve overall spinal stability. Before recommending the procedure, Dr. Michels thoroughly reviews your medical history, performs a physical exam, and may order imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan, or an MRI to assess the extent of the compression fracture.
Note that timing does matter since kyphoplasty must be performed before the bone has healed, generally within three months. For that reason, Dr. Michels recommends scheduling a visit sooner rather than later if you develop sudden back pain or other symptoms of a compression fracture.
During kyphoplasty, typically performed under sedation, Dr. Michels makes a small incision near the targeted treatment area. Using advanced imaging (fluoroscopy) to ensure accuracy, he inserts a hollow needle (trocar) into the damaged bone.
He uses the trocar to place a small deflated medical balloon into the targeted vertebra. After inflating the balloon to restore vertebral height and create space, Dr. Michels injects the area with bone cement.
The mixture fills in the cracks and spaces left by the fracture, hardening within moments. This stabilizes the vertebra while eliminating nerve irritation and other painful complications that occur when the vertebral bodies collapse or move out of alignment.
Dr. Michels provides specific instructions for aftercare, including activity or lifting restrictions and follow-up appointments.
For instance, you may benefit from a physical therapy program to assist you in regaining mobility and resuming daily activities after kyphoplasty. Dr. Michels may also recommend optimizing treatment for osteoporosis to help prevent future fractures.
Otherwise, most patients experience rapid pain relief following kyphoplasty, and healing is quick since it’s a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.
Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Michels today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.