Q. My 73-year-old mother recently fell and had severe back pain. Our family physician diagnosed her as having a compression fracture of one of her lower back bones. He sent her home on pain pills and said it would take about six weeks to get better. Is there any other treatment option? She has osteoporosis and I fear may fall again.
A. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common condition that we see in aging patients, particularly those with some underlying condition such as osteoporosis. The injury described in your question is a lumbar vertebral body compression fracture.
The traditional treatment for this was to send the patient home on pain medications and bed rest. The newest development for treating these fractures acutely (soon after the injury occurs) is called a Kyphoplasty.
In this procedure, the physician places a balloon-like device into the vertebral body and gently inflates it until the vertebral body regains some of its lost height. Once this is done, the physician injects into the newly created cavity of the vertebral body a glue-like substance to “set” the fracture.
This procedure is done in a minimally invasive way (no incision), and relief from pain is almost immediate. Patients generally go home the same day the procedure is done.
Michael R. Gallagher, MD, Neurosurgeon
The Neurosurgical Group of Chattanooga, PC
1010 East Third Street, STE 202
Chattanooga, TN, 423.265.2233
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Dalton, GA, 706.259.7072