When small breaks or fractures occur in the spine, the collapse or compression of a vertebra shortens the spine and curves it forward. This can result in significant pain, immobility and a kyphotic (hunched-back) deformity. Most of the time osteoporosis – or the thinning of bones – causes these fractures.
Kyphoplasty can help treat fractured vertebrae. The procedure begins with the doctor inserting a needle through the skin and back muscles, directly into the bone. After a balloon-like device inflates inside the bone to create space, cement is then injected into that space. This stabilizes the vertebra and reduces pain. It also helps to restore the height of the vertebra, which straightens out the spinal curve and hunched-over posture.
After one hour, some patients can start walking again. After 48 hours, many patients report noticeable pain relief and improved mobility. Some may experience soreness where the needle was put into their backs, but that typically lasts for just a few days. Better yet, no stiches are required.
Please note that kyphoplasty is a procedure reserved for those whose pain is due to vertebral fracture and cannot be used to address pain due to other problems like disc herniation, arthritis or stenosis.