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West Texas Pain Institute

Pain Management Physicians located in El Paso, TX

As you get older, your risk of developing hairline fractures in your vertebra increases. Over time, these tiny fractures can lead to vertebral compression fractures. At West Texas Pain Institute, Raul Lopez, MD, provides vertebroplasty procedures to repair broken and compressed vertebra to relieve discomfort and strengthen your spine. Call the El Paso, Texas, office or make an appointment online to discover if vertebroplasty can alleviate your back pain.

Vertebroplasty Q & A

What is vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to repair spinal compression fractures. Dr. Lopez injects your broken vertebra with surgical cement.

Compression fractures develop when hairline cracks in a vertebra weaken the bone, and it collapses. Compression fractures usually progress slowly, but cause back pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. While anyone can get a compression fracture, it’s more common in people who have osteoporosis, which makes their bones brittle and weak.

What happens during vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty takes approximately an hour. Dr. Lopez performs vertebroplasty as an outpatient procedure with a local anesthetic. During the procedure, you lie on your front or side and are awake throughout the treatment. Dr. Lopez can provide mild sedation if necessary.

Dr. Lopez uses fluoroscopy — a special type of X-ray that uses a contrast dye — to guide a biopsy needle into your compressed spine. When the needle is in place, Dr. Lopez injects PMMA, a special bone cement that fills in the cracks in your vertebra. As the cement hardens, it strengthens and supports your vertebra.

What should I expect after vertebroplasty?

You rest in the office for a couple of hours after your vertebroplasty is complete. You should have a friend or family member drive you home after your procedure.  In most cases, you experience pain relief within a day.

Dr. Lopez provides customized aftercare advice following your vertebroplasty. In most cases, you’ll need to rest at home for 24-48 hours after your procedure and can gradually increase your activity levels. You can use ice packs to relieve any discomfort at the injection site. You should avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for six weeks.

Am I a good candidate for vertebroplasty?

If your X-rays indicate that a compression fracture is causing your back pain in a vertebra, you may benefit from vertebroplasty. The procedure often provides more rapid relief than other treatment options for cracked or compressed vertebrae.

Another sign that you might benefit from vertebroplasty is if your back pain worsens when you pick up a heavy object or when your movements put pressure on your spine, for example when you get out of bed or move between a sitting and standing position.

If you struggle with back pain, call West Texas Pain Institute or make an appointment online to see if vertebroplasty is right for you.