Helping Osteoporosis of the Spine: Vertebral Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis of the spine causes damage and weakening of the vertebrae bones. As people with osteoporosis age, even everyday activities and minor missteps or falls can cause small fractures in the vertebrae. The waistline area or just above it are the most common sites for these fractures. Most fractures of this type are not painful, but some do cause pain and/or misalignment, and they require an orthopedic doctor's care.

Non-surgical therapies include pain medication and bracing. Depending on the underlying cause and severity of a patient's osteoporosis, there may still be a chance of more fracturing, even with these treatments.

Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty are minimally invasive surgical procedures that strengthen the fractured vertebrae by adding bone cement inside them. Kyphoplasty uses a ballon to inflate a damaged vertebra, which reshapes and realigns it, before filling

it with the bone cement. Vertebroplasty injects bone cement into a vertebra to provide stabilization and strength, but does not address reshaping or realignment issues in the same way as Kyphoplasty.

In both procedures, the patient can usually remain awake but sedated or treated with a local anesthesia. Careful study of each patient's compression fractures can help an orthopedic physician advise if either procedure is appropriate.