Osteoporotic Compression Fractures

More than 10 million Americans suffer from the effects of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when bones start to lose calcium with age and become fragile.

One side effect of this condition is compression fractures in the spine. This occurs when a thick block of bone at the front of a vertebra (one of the 33 bones of the spine) collapses. This causes the spine to shorten and fall forward. When this happens, it's called kyphosis.

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Symptoms

This is a spinal deformity that causes stooped posture, sometimes known as dowager's hump. Along with it, a person will have severe and chronic back pain and a loss of height. The deformed spine presses on the space available to the lungs.

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Treatments

Until recently, most patients suffering from compression fractures were treated with bed rest, pain relievers, physical therapy and braces.

Advanced technology has paved the way for balloon kyphoplasty. This procedure, first performed in the United States in 1998, is less invasive and has better outcomes than traditional open back surgery.

In this operation, surgeons insert an inflatable device through a half -inch incision using an X-ray to guide its placement. The balloon is inflated, pushing the collapsed bone around it back into a normal position. The balloon is deflated and removed. The cavity left behind inside the bone is filled with bone cement to strengthen the bone like an internal cast to prevent collapse.

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