Your back is a complex structure that consists of a variety of nerves, muscles, and bones working together to hold you up and help you move. Unfortunately, despite its strength, even your back is vulnerable to injury and painful conditions, and everything from a spasm to a slipped disc can cause you to keel over in pain.
Back pain affects 65 million Americans, and the treatment options range from surgery to pain medication, so it can be hard to know which is right for you.
Dr. Raul Lopez at West Texas Pain Institute takes the time to completely understand your unique situation and diligently review your symptoms and health history. This helps him determine your candidacy for certain treatments, including kyphoplasty.
What is kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure Dr. Lopez uses to repair the bony building blocks in your spine known as vertebrae. It involves carefully guiding a thin needle into your damaged vertebra, inserting a balloon catheter to reposition it and create some space, and filling cracks with a special bone cement.
Who’s a candidate for kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a safe, effective option for back pain, but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few things Dr. Lopez takes into account before recommending kyphoplasty.
The source of your back pain
Though millions of people have back pain, not all back pain is the same. For 750,000 people living with back pain, their symptoms stem from a spinal compression fracture.
This type of fracture happens when one or more vertebrae collapse and fracture, resulting in significant pain and other debilitating symptoms. If Dr. Lopez determines that you have a spinal compression fraction, he recommends kyphoplasty to repair the cracks and fractures in your vertebra and strengthen your spine.
Your risk level
When you discuss your back pain with Dr. Lopez, be sure to mention if you have any health conditions that impact your bone health. They might point to a spinal compression fracture as the source of your pain and make you a candidate for kyphoplasty.
For example, if you have osteoporosis, you’re at increased risk for spinal compression fractures. Osteoporosis typically develops as a result of getting older and gradually losing bone density, but it can also occur if you have health conditions like an eating disorder, low calcium, or thyroid problems.
Gender and hormones also play a role in bone health. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis and are at a greater risk for spinal compression fractures because they experience a significant reduction in estrogen levels as they go through menopause. In fact, 25% of postmenopausal women sustain a spinal compression fracture.
If you have a certain type of cancer that attacks your bones or have undergone cancer treatments that have weakened them, you might also be a candidate for kyphoplasty.
Other treatments have failed
In some cases, all you need are conservative methods, such as rest, pain medication, and braces to allow your vertebrae time to heal. Many patients find relief and expedited healing through physical or occupational therapy.
There are times, however, when your spinal compression fracture is severe or simply won’t respond to conservative treatments. When that’s the case, Dr. Lopez recommends kyphoplasty to address your fractures.
What should you expect from kyphoplasty?
Dr. Lopez performs your kyphoplasty in our office. It’s a routine, outpatient procedure that only requires a local anesthetic. We do offer a mild sedative to help you relax even more if you’re concerned about being awake for the procedure.
You lie on your stomach or your side while Dr. Lopez cleans and numbs the treatment area. He uses a special imaging device called fluoroscopy to guide the needle into position before inserting and inflating the balloon catheter and injecting the bone cement.
Following your kyphoplasty, you recover comfortably in our office until you’re ready to go home. You need a trusted friend or relative to drive you home, and we recommend that you take a day or two off from your normal routine. If you’ve had more than one vertebra treated, we may ask you to stay overnight so Dr. Lopez and our team can closely monitor your recovery.
You can return to your regular activities after a few days but should hold off on participating in strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least 6-8 weeks.
If you’d like more information or believe you’re a candidate for kyphoplasty, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our El Paso, Texas, office.