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Kyphoplasty for Osteoporosis: What to Expect

Kyphoplasty for Osteoporosis: What to Expect

Bone is a living tissue that grows and decays and grows again over time. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when too much bone tissue breaks down, when the body makes too little tissue, or both. 

The bones become weak and brittle, and you can break them easily in a fall or even just from sneezing. Spontaneous compression fractures in the spine are a hallmark of the disease.

At Pinnacle Pain and Spine, our interventional pain specialists, Dr. Matthew Crooks and Dr. Stuart Rammell, see a lot of osteoporosis patients, especially ones with compression fractures of the spinal vertebrae. 

We rely on a procedure called kyphoplasty to treat those fractures successfully, and we want you to know what to expect from it.

The lowdown on osteoporosis

Healthy bone tissue appears under a microscope in a honeycomb pattern, with thick walls and even holes. Osteoporosis means “porous bone,” and when you look at bone tissue from a patient with the disease, you see thin walls and large holes representing the loss of tissue mass and density. 

Because the pattern is more space than tissue, the bones break more easily. The highest at-risk group for developing osteoporosis from non-controllable causes (i.e. genetics, race) is small, white or Asian postmenopausal women.

Osteoporosis is considered a silent disease because you have no way of knowing your bones are weakened without a bone density scan, called a DEXA. 

Breaking a bone, loss of height, and/or upper back curvature are all characteristic signs you have the disease, so if you experience any of these, contact us to find out what you can do.

What’s a compression fracture?

Your spine is composed of 24 bony vertebrae interspersed with cushiony intervertebral discs that absorb shock when you walk, jump, or turn. 

If you lose bone density in the vertebrae, your spine may start to curve (humpback) with the stress, or the vertebrae may collapse in on each other — a compression fracture. It’s an extremely painful condition, and it may prevent you from doing even the most basic tasks, such as getting out of bed.

Compression fractures usually occur in the thoracic (chest) region of the spine, which includes the T1-T12 vertebrae, but they may also occur in the lumbar spine, L1-L5.

Kyphoplasty for osteoporosis — what to expect

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that treats a spinal compression fracture. It’s usually performed at a hospital under either local or general anesthesia.

The goals of kyphoplasty are to stabilize the fractured vertebra(e), restore the vertebra(e) back to normal height, and reduce pain from the fracture. The procedure takes about an hour per vertebra.

You lie face down on the operating table. Once the anesthesia takes effect, your surgeon makes a small, half-inch incision over the affected area.

X-ray guidance helps them insert a narrow tube into one side of the fractured vertebra. Then they thread an uninflated balloon through the tube and into the vertebral body. 

Once positioned inside, the balloon inflates to create an open cavity inside the bone, which restores lost height to the collapsed vertebra. The surgeon then deflates the balloon and threads it back out the tube, leaving the new bone cavity behind.

PMMA, a type of bone cement, is injected into the new cavity, ensuring that the vertebra doesn’t collapse again. Your surgeon may repeat the process on the other side of the vertebral body to ensure uniformity. 

After the procedure, you remain on the table for another 5 minutes or so while the cement hardens. You can often go home the same day, though you may need to spend a night in the hospital to ensure everything went according to plan.

Some of our patients experience immediate pain relief, while others need a day or two before their pain diminishes. Once you’re home, you can return to your normal routine, though you should avoid strenuous activities such as lifting, driving, and intense exercise for at least six weeks.

If you know you have osteoporosis, and you’re starting to show symptoms, it’s time to come into Pinnacle Pain and Spine for an evaluation to determine if kyphoplasty is right for you. Call or book online with us today. Our offices are located in Chandler, Scottsdale, and Fountain Hills, Arizona.

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