Spinal fractures can be extremely painful and hinder everyday life. Depending on the location and severity of the spinal fracture a number of painful symptoms can occur. OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine offers an innovative, minimally invasive surgical procedure known as vertebroplasty to patients suffering from a spinal fracture in the Dallas, Ft. Worth and Arlington areas.
What is a Spinal Fracture?
A spinal fracture also referred to as compression fractures or vertebral fractures is typically due to osteoporosis (weak bones). A spinal fracture can occur in the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back) or lumbar (lower back) spine, but is most commonly seen in the thoracic spine (T10, T11 or T12) and the upper segment of the lumbar spine (L1).
A fracture in the spine most commonly occurs at the front of the vertebra, which involves a collapse of the bone that creates a wedged compression. Less common types of fractures are crush fractures – when the entire vertebra bone breaks – or burst fractures – which involve a type of loss of height in both the front and back walls of the vertebra.
Symptoms of Spinal Fractures
- Acute back pain that can lead to chronic pain
- Increased pain when walking and standing
- Loss of height
- Crowding of internal organs
What is Vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that stabilizes the spinal fracture and eliminates pain caused by the fracture. To begin, the patient is lightly sedated and injected with a local anesthesia. X-ray guidance is used to increase the accuracy of treatment. Then, a small puncture is created in the patient’s skin. Formulated acrylic bone cement is injected directly into the fractured vertebra, creating an internal stabilizing cast for the fractured bone. The needle is then removed and the cement hardens in about 10 minutes. A bandage then covers the small puncture in the skin.
Shortly after the cement hardens, the patient is free to go home. Our physicians recommend that patients do not drive immediately after the procedure. Bed rest is also recommended for 24 hours after the procedure with a gradual increase in activity after the initial 24 hours. It is normal for patients to experience some soreness around the puncture site for a few days. An ice pack can help alleviate minor pain.
Most patients report a 90% reduction in pain within the first 24-48 hours and are able to increase activity shortly thereafter. Research has shown that vertebroplasty can relieve pain from a spinal fracture for up to three years following the procedure.
What are the Risks Involved?
There is a less than 3% risk involved with vertebroplasty. Complications can include, infection, bleeding, numbness, increased pain and paralysis. Prior to the procedure our physicians will discuss in detail the risks involved.