Have you ever experienced a severe acute onset of back pain? You may be suffering from a vertebral compression fracture. A compression fracture of the spine is a collapse of the vertebral bone. It can affect one or more vertebrae and typically occur in the thoracic spine and lumbar spine. Vertebral compression fractures affect more than 700,000 people in the United States. Vertebral compression fractures often are undiagnosed and results in higher mortality and morbidity rates than hip fractures. Vertebral compression fractures cause severe acute onset of localized back pain.

Vertebral compression fractures can occur secondary to underlying conditions such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, and benign or metastatic lesions. At Pain and Spine Consultants we have seen patients suffer vertebral compressions fractures after a trauma or fall. We have also seen them a occur after something as little as a sneeze or cough.

At Pain and Spine Consultants we offer two different treatment options for vertebral compression fractures include non-surgical management or vertebral augmentation. Non-surgical management includes bed-rest, pain medication, bracing or physical therapy. Vertebral augmentation includes balloon kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty.

The benefits of vertebral augmentation are lower mortality and morbidity rates and there have been several studies showing vertebral augmentation provides greater pain relief and decrease in subsequent fractures.

What is vertebral augmentation?

Vertebral augmentation is a minimally invasive procedure that repairs vertebral compression fractures. It helps restore the spine’s natural shape and most patients’ experience immediate and lasting pain relief. In preparation for the procedure, your physician will ask you to come in fasting, have a driver and to be off of any anticoagulants. IV sedation is provided for the duration of the procedure. Your physician will use x-ray to guide a needle into the vertebral body. Depending on the fracture, your physician may place a device that has an inflatable ballon through the needle. The balloon is carefully inflated to expand the fractured bone to leave a cavity and to restore height loss. The balloon is then deflated and removed from the vertebral body. After this is complete, your physician will inject bone cement through a needle into the vertebral body. The cement fills the cavity created either by a balloon, if used, or the channels created by the needle. The cement hardens inside the vertebral body, stabilizing the fracture. When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed. The small opening in your skin is closed with surgical glue.

Dr. Tyler Roe