12 Jul Vertebroplasty: A Minimally Invasive Procedure for Back Pain
Back pain is no fun. When it is caused by a fractured or compressed vertebrae, it can be completely debilitating. The good news is that treatments are available. One such treatment is known as vertebroplasty. Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that offers pain relief to many patients.
We would be happy to discuss vertebroplasty with you. If you are experiencing back pain that you believe might be due to a fractured or compressed vertebrae, make an appointment to see us in our Weatherford, TX office.
When Vertebrae Collapse or Fracture
What we call the backbone is actually made up of multiple smaller bones called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are discs that provide flexibility and shock absorption. When all is working well, the spine functions as it should and a person feels normal. But should one or more vertebrae weaken to the point of collapse or breaking, things change.
A compressed or fractured vertebrae leads to spinal column compression. As a result, pressure is put on surrounding nerves. That pressure is what causes the pain. Vertebroplasty is a treatment designed to directly address the vertebrae in question. By stabilizing the vertebrae, nerve pressure and pain are relieved.
Injecting Bone Cement
We pain medicine specialists like to talk about vertebroplasty in medical terms. But we know that you prefer a more simple explanation. In essence, vertebroplasty involves injecting bone cement into the damaged vertebrae. The cement fills all the cavities within the bone before hardening.
Once hardened, the cement stabilizes the bone and relieves pressure. As previously stated, relieving pressure on the surrounding nerves also relieves back pain. The patient enjoys long-term pain relief with very little risk of complications or side effects.
For the record, vertebroplasty has been utilized to relieve back pain for many years. It has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with vertebrae fractures, especially those for whom more traditional treatments have not worked.
An Outpatient Procedure
Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure performed right in the doctor’s office. The patient lies on an exam table, face down, and is given a local anesthesia to make needle insertion more comfortable. The actual procedure can be commenced once the anesthesia has had time to numb the area.
A needle is inserted through a small incision in the skin and guided to the affected vertebrae using medical imaging. It is then inserted directly into the affected bone to facilitate bone cement injection. That’s it. The needle is removed, the incision bandaged, and the patient given time to rest and recover.
Patients can usually leave the office within 30-60 minutes. Some return to normal activities right away while others take the remainder of the day to rest. Either way, one of the big advantages of vertebroplasty is that patients do not need weeks to recover.
Immediate Relief for Most Patients
Another big advantage vertebroplasty offers is immediate pain relief. In most cases, patients notice significantly less pain as soon as the bone cement hardens. As an added benefit, the newly stabilized vertebrae are less likely to experience additional compression or stress fractures.
Of course, vertebroplasty is significantly less invasive than more traditional surgical treatments. That makes it ideal for people for whom surgery would be unfavorable or inappropriate. As for potential risks, there are only a few associated with the procedure.
The biggest risk is the risk of infection. However, infection is a risk common to all types of injections. It is normally not a big deal for vertebroplasty patients. Patients concerned about infection should talk to their doctors about it before agreeing to the procedure.