Vertebral Augmentation

What is it?

Vertebral augmentation is a type of minimally invasive procedure used to treat pain caused by a vertebral compression fracture. There are two forms of vertebral augmentation, kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. During a kypholasty procedure, a balloon inserted into the vertebra to first restore the compressed vertebra before injecting cement. This practice helps re-establish the height and shape of the vertebra, decreasing both pain and spinal curvature.

Treating Compression Fractures, Video Overview

What are the treatment options for a compression fracture?

The first step to getting treatment for a compression fracture is determining the level of pain and damage in your spine. Conservative treatments include using a back brace, taking pain medication (both over the counter or prescription), and receiving physical therapy. When pain is severe, ongoing, or inhibiting, a common treatment is a vertebral augmentation.

Two forms of minimally invasive augmentation are used today: kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. While both treatments use bone cement to stabilize the damaged vertebra, kyphoplasty uses a unique method to first boost the compressed vertebra before inserting the cement. This practice helps re-establish the height and shape of the vertebra, decreasing both pain and spinal curvature.

Image: The image on the right shows how the height of the shattered vertebral body (on the left) has been restored with kyphoplasty. The white material in the vertebral body on the right is bone cement, which adds significant stability to the injured vertebral body as it heals. Most patients who undergo kyphoplasty for a compression fracture experience pain relief less than one hour after the procedure is finished.

Should I seek medical help for my back pain?

You should seek help if you have been experiencing back pain for more than four weeks or were recently in an accident or traumatic event that induced back pain. Even if you do not have Osteoporosis, low bone density, or remember experiencing trauma or an accident, ongoing back pain could be a sign of a bigger issue and it is important to get a proper diagnosis and care. If you have previously had a vertebral compression fracture, and your back pain has either returned or has been ongoing, consider seeking immediate medical attention.

A strong and healthy spine is an important ingredient to living an active, unhindered lifestyle. Pain and immobility are both a nuisance and a potential cause of unexpected health risks, all of which can be avoided with the right care and treatment. If your back pain is getting you down, and keeping you down, it may be time to seek medical care.

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