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Treatment For the Pain of Spinal Fractures Caused by Osteoporosis

Approximately 700,000 fractures of the vertebra (spine) occur each year — usually in women over the age of 60. Researchers estimate that at least 25 percent of women and a somewhat smaller percentage of men over the age of 50 will suffer one or more spinal fractures. Younger people also suffer these fractures, particularly those whose bones have become fragile due to the long-term use of steroids or other drugs. Of particular concern are spinal fractures caused by a progressive weakening of the bone — a condition called osteoporosis. The pain and loss of movement that often accompany fractures of the spine are perhaps the most feared and debilitating side effects of osteoporosis. For many people with osteoporosis, a spinal fracture means severely limited activity, constant pain and a serious reduction in the quality of their lives.

Until recently, reduced activity and pain medications, many of which cause problematic side effects, or invasive (and often unsuccessful) back surgery were virtually the only treatments available. Today, however, there is a safe, non-surgical treatment called Vertebroplasty that has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing or eliminating the pain caused by spinal fractures.

What is Vertebroplasty (Vir-TEE-bro-plastee)?

Vertebroplasty, a non-surgical treatment performed by CiC physicians using imaging guidance, stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. This improves pain almost immediately, can prevent further collapse of the vertebra, provides long-term pain relief and has a low complication rate as demonstrated in numerous clinical studies.

If the vertebra isn’t shored up, the fracture can worsen so that the vertebra assumes a flattened wedge shape. Once this occurs, the fracture can become difficult or impossible to treat. It is very important for someone with persistent spinal pain to call CiC. Patients who require constant pain relief with narcotics should seek help immediately.