Symptoms and causes of VCF
Often, vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) are followed by sharp back pain and may lead to chronic pain, kyphosis or dowager’s hump, loss of height and declining health. This progression is often referred to as the downward spiral. Since one fracture can lead to another, it is important that VCFs be diagnosed and treated early. Contact your physician if you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms or if you are part of a risk group listed below:
- Acute back pain
- Subacute back pain
- Intense midline pain
- Referred or band-like radiating pain (not to the legs)
- Unresponsive to medical therapy
- History of Osteoporotic fracture(s)
- Low weight
- Steroid use
- Lack of exercise
- Calcium/vitamin D deficiency
What is Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty (vertebral augmentation) is an outpatient procedure used to treat compression fractures of the spine. These fractures, also known as vertebral compression fractures (VCF) are typically caused by the natural effects of aging and osteoporosis.
When a VCF causes the vertebra to collapse, it can lead to the development of an abnormal forward curve, resulting in a loss in height, poor posture, and severe back pain. Treatment to fix vertebral compression fractures soon after they happen is essential to restoring vertebral body height and size, and to avoiding risks of serious complications or additional fractures.
Conservative therapy for VCFs includes bed rest, pain medication, muscle relaxants, external back braces, and physical therapy. If there is little or no pain relief, your doctor may recommend Kyphoplasty.
How is Kyphoplasty Performed?
This minimally invasive procedure is done on an outpatient basis and usually requires only local anesthetic and mild sedation, eliminating many of the complications that result from open surgery. For many patients, Kyphoplasty results in almost immediate pain relief and is covered by Medicare and most PPOs.
A kyphoplasty procedure uses x-ray guidance to place a needle through a small incision in the back and into the vertebral compression fracture. After the needle is accurately placed, a balloon is slowly inflated to help restore vertebral height and form a new cavity. Bone cement is then injected into the new cavity and quickly hardens, which alleviates pain by strengthening and solidifying the damaged vertebra.
Kyphoplasty involves inserting a balloon to create a cavity in the damaged bone, then injecting a special cement to prop up the bone.
Vertebroplasty uses image guidance to inject the cement directly into the bone through a needle. This cement hardens to provide immediate stability.
What Should I Expect after the Procedure?
During your expert evaluation with Dr. Goswami, you’ll find out whether you’ll be admitted to the hospital or be able to go home after the procedure. You’ll have to gradually resume your normal activities, but you must avoid strenuous exertions for at least six weeks. Some patients experience pain relief immediately; others notice a difference in just a couple of days.