From invasive surgery to oral medication, there are many different ways to treat back pain — and millions are searching for the treatment that will work for them. Back pain is the third most common reason for doctor’s visits, closely following skin disorders and osteoarthritis.
But even if the treatment that's right for you is minimally invasive, you can never be too informed or prepared when it comes to procedures on your back. Here, Dr. Raul Lopez from the West Texas Pain Institute gives you a sneak peek into the pre- and post-procedure routines for vertebroplasty.
Who needs vertebroplasty?
Your spine is made up of bones called vertebrae. These bones are uniquely designed to be rigid enough to protect your spinal cord and help hold you upright, but flexible enough to allow you to bend, twist, and make other movements.
Over time or as the result of injury, your vertebrae can weaken and develop small compression fractures. Eventually, they collapse, causing you to experience back pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility.
If Dr. Lopez determines that you have a spinal compression fracture, he may recommend vertebroplasty.
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure in which Dr. Lopez repairs the small, painful cracks in your spine by injecting special bone cement into your fractured vertebrae.
Dr. Lopez carefully guides the injection needle with a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy, which uses a contrast dye to help him see exactly where the needle should go. The whole procedure takes approximately one hour.
It may seem like a simple procedure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any necessary preparations to make before and after. Here’s what you should expect before and after your vertebroplasty.
Before the procedure
As with any procedure, you must follow all pre-procedure guidelines. For vertebroplasty, that means avoiding food and drink six hours beforehand. In some cases, you may be allowed to drink a small amount of water two hours before your procedure, but check with Dr. Lopez before you do so.
Depending on your unique situation, we may ask you to restrict some of your prescription medications or discontinue using them completely. Not all patients need to adjust their prescriptions, so be sure to consult Dr. Lopez before you stop taking your medication.
It’s also a good idea to manage any other health conditions and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the days and weeks leading up to your vertebroplasty.
After the procedure
Once Dr. Lopez completes the procedure, your recovery phase begins. Since vertebroplasty is minimally invasive, it won’t sideline you from your normal routine for extended periods, but we do recommend that you rest comfortably at home for the first 24 hours.
After that, you can start gradually returning to your daily activities and begin taking your regular medication, though you should avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks.
You may notice some mild soreness at the puncture site for a few days, but you can easily manage it with an ice pack. You notice pain relief within 24-48 hours following your procedure, and we schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.
We still want to help you manage your spine health even after you’ve left the recovery phase. There’s no guaranteed way to avoid injuring your vertebrae or developing new spinal compression fractures, but you can make some simple health and lifestyle adjustments to mitigate your risk, including:
- Getting enough calcium and vitamin D
- Quitting smoking
- Do strength-building exercises
- Prevent falls or injuries
If you have a health condition such as osteoporosis that puts your bone health at risk, it’s also important that you closely follow your treatment plan and take all medications.
Are you struggling with back pain? Do you want more information about vertebroplasty and your other treatment options? Don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff or request an appointment online at our El Paso, Texas, location.