Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone that leads to an increased risk of fracture. It is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of the bone.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans and is responsible for 700,000 vertebral fractures each year. Multiple vertebral fractures can result in chronic pain and disability, loss of independence, stooped posture, and compression of the lungs and stomach. Nearly all vertebral fractures in otherwise healthy people are due to osteoporosis, and can occur from a minor impact, such as a bump or a fall, in those who suffer from this bone-weakening disease. People who have a spinal fracture often don't realize that they may have osteoporosis, because the disease is symptom-free until a fracture occurs.
Factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis include:
- Being female
- Being thin or having a small frame
- Advanced age
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Being past menopause
- Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
- Anorexia or bulimia
- A diet low in calcium
- Long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive use of alcohol
Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure using X-ray imaging. You will be conscious, but sedated and feel no pain. The interventional radiologist will insert a needle through a nick in the skin in your back, directing it under fluoroscopy (continuous, moving X-ray imaging) into the fractured vertebra. The physician then injects the medical-grade bone cement into the vertebra. Vertebroplasty takes one to two hours to perform, depending on how many bones are treated. The cement hardens within 15 minutes and stabilizes your fracture, like an internal cast.
The History of Vertebroplasty
Vertebroplasty was first performed in France in 1984 to treat compression fractures caused by bone cancer or bone metastasis, and later to treat compression fractures caused by osteoporosis. Percutaneous vertebroplasty was introduced in the United States in 1994 and has become widely available since 1997 as a treatment for pain associated with compression fractures due to osteoporosis. The procedure has been shown to provide continued pain relief for osteoporotic compression fractures.
A 1998 study by Dr. Deramond and colleagues reported on 80 patients with rapid and complete pain relief in more than 90 percent of osteoporotic cases. The follow-up in this patient population ranged from one month to 10 years with care for treating osteoporotic compression fractures as more patients and physicians become aware of the new advances in interventional radiology.
Some patients experience immediate pain relief after vertebroplasty. Most report that their pain is gone or significantly better within 48 hours. You should expect to resume your normal daily activities immediately.
If you have failed all other standard pain treatments and are still in severe pain, you can obtain a second opinion. Our doctors will be able to determine if you are a candidate for vertebroplasty.Back To Top
Additional Treatment Options
Epidural Steroid Injections
An epidural steroid injection (ESI), more generally referred to as a nerve block, is a common type of spinal injection. An ESI is an injection of a long lasting steroid combined with a local anesthetic into the epidural space. The medication travels up and down the epidural space to coat the spinal nerves and the facet joints near the area of the injection.
Epidural steroid injections are for temporary relief of pain; they are not a cure. Pain relief often lasts from a couple of weeks to months, although these injections are not always effective. There are rare but serious risks involved.
A facet injection is an injection of steroid medication into a facet joint (spinal joint) to reduce pain caused by inflammation of the facet joint. An injection may also be made around the small nerves that connect with the facet joint to help determine if the joint is the source of pain. In many cases, damaged facet joints are not the cause of back pain.
Facet injections may be used to treat moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis). (Epidural Steroid Injections are also used for spinal osteoarthritis.) Facet injections are usually limited to three per year as too many injections may cause more degeneration of the joint cartilage or side effects of corticosteroids.Back To Top