Compression fractures often vary in severity, therefore severity and symptoms vary as well. These symptoms include:
- back pain,
- affected or limited spinal mobility,
- and deformity.
Degenerative Disc Disease
With age, spinal discs normally degenerate or change. The medical diagnosis for this process is “degenerative disc disease”. Common symptoms include:
- chronic pain,
- episodic neck and back pain,
- and more intense pain with exertion (ie; lifting, bending).
What Is Vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure utilized to secure spinal degeneration and compression fractures in the spinal cord. Due to the onset of osteoporosis or degenerative effects of cancer, vertebrae that have been fractured or cracked are injected with a bone cement. The bone cement hardens, and the fracture is then stabilized to support the compromised spine or spinal column. According to the case, one or multiple vertebrae may need to be treated. This procedure is known to drastically alleviate and manage back pain, allowing the patient to return to an unaffected routine. Kyphoplasty is a form of vertebroplasty which includes an additional step of inserting a balloon into the cavity or affected area before filling with the cement.
What does the procedure look like?
The patient lies on their stomach while being prepared for the procedure, then receives medication to relax their spinal nerve. The skin and tissue of the back is desensitized by a local anesthetic, which also desensitizes the spinal tissue and skin. During the procedure a small x-ray device, called a fluoroscope, is utilized to project an image and help the physician track the exact position of where the needle is located. This is to more accurately guide the needle tip to the location of the compromised vertebra or vertebrae.
After using the fluoroscope to verify the location of the needle, the physician then secures the needle in place. Using the same needle, the physician injects the bone cement to the vertebra. The bone cement enters and fills the fractured spaces in the vertebra. An additional injection may be considered to adequately fill the fractured vertebra or vertebrae. The cement should harden within the following hour, securely if not completely fortifying and sustaining the injured spinal cord.
Once the procedure has been completed, and the needle used in the injection has been removed, the entrance point of the injection is cleaned and dressed. The patient is then asked to lie down for a few hours for monitoring as the bone cement is being set to harden. The physician will then provide post procedure prescription and medical care instruction to help with the recovery.