Your spine is nothing short of a feat of engineering. The 33 vertebrae are perfectly designed to support you throughout your life. Unfortunately, age, disease, and injury damage your spine, making you vulnerable to painful spinal fractures.
When that happens, Dr. Raul Lopez and our team at West Texas Pain Institute in El Paso, Texas, turn to kyphoplasty.
Though it’s a minimally invasive procedure, your spine health hangs in the balance, and we understand that you have questions about what to expect. In this blog post, we walk you through the basics of kyphoplasty and give you some pointers on making your recovery a breeze.
We recommend kyphoplasty to patients who’ve sustained a spinal fracture. Spinal fractures often stem from injury or underlying health conditions like osteoporosis and cancer. Dr. Lopez uses fluoroscopy to guide a medical balloon into the damaged vertebra during the procedure. Then, he inflates the balloon to restore your spine’s natural height, space, and structure before injecting special bone cement.
When the cement hardens, your spine regains its former strength, and you feel less pain.
What to expect from recovery
Recovery looks different for everyone, and we tailor your care instructions based on your unique health history and risk factors. Meanwhile, here are answers to some of the questions we often get regarding recovery from kyphoplasty.
What happens right after the procedure?
Right after your procedure, you spend some time (a few hours or so) in our office so we can monitor you. If you received any kind of sedative medication to help you relax, we want to ensure you don’t have a reaction before sending you home.
In most cases, we encourage our kyphoplasty patients to get up and walk around right away, so we can evaluate any adverse reactions and pain triggers.
Make sure you have a friend or family member on standby to take you home — you’ll be a bit sore at the injection site and want to take it easy for a while.
Do I need to take time off work?
We recommend you take at least a few days off work to allow your spine to accept the procedure and finish healing.
How long until I recover fully?
Many of our patients are up and moving around in just a day or two, but your overall health and the extent of your procedure may lengthen your recovery. For instance, if you had more than one vertebrae treated, aren’t physically healthy, or experienced complications during your procedure, you may be laid up for longer.
Are there any risks?
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive, well-tolerated procedure, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally risk-free. Some risks and complications associated with kyphoplasty include:
- Increased back pain
- Nerve damage
- Allergic reaction
- Cement leakage
Dr. Lopez and our team are specially trained to perform kyphoplasties and have years of experience performing them, so rest assured your risk of complication is very low.
The same goes for side effects. You shouldn't feel any additional pain besides some soreness or tenderness at the injection site. Any side effects that develop are easy to manage with cold compresses and over-the-counter pain medication.
Are there any restrictions?
You don’t have to put your life on hold completely, but you should follow a few basic guidelines, such as:
- Not driving for at least the first day
- Avoiding lifting anything heavy for the first day
- Limiting vigorous exercise for 4-6 weeks
Your restrictions are unique to you, your health, and your procedure.
When will I notice pain relief?
For most, pain relief is almost instant, but it may take up to 48 hours for you to feel the effects of the procedure. Don’t panic if you don’t feel pain relief right away — everyone responds to kyphoplasty at a different rate.
Is there anything I should do at home?
There isn’t much you need to worry about when you get home. Keep the bandage covering your injection site on, and take care to keep it clean and dry. Otherwise, your main focus should be resting and allowing your spine to heal.
Don’t hesitate to contact our staff if you have questions or concerns during your recovery.
Have another question we didn’t answer here? We’d love to talk with you. Schedule an appointment with our team online or over the phone to get in touch with one of our experts today.