Dawn, 58, enjoys walking on the beach and looking for seashells in her oceanfront community. It’s a relaxing way to spend her precious free time between working two jobs — as a nurse at a skilled care nursing home and as a home health care provider.
One day recently, the physical demands of Dawn’s work caught up with her.
“I was moving a tub, and I was bent down pulling the tub backwards. I’m not sure what was in it, but it was heavy. And something on the floor caused me to fall. I fell from no higher than knee high.”
Dawn knew instantly that something was wrong when she felt a pop in her back. “It was loud, and the pain was horrible.”
She left work and went home, but after two days of intense pain that wouldn’t let up, Dawn went to the emergency room. There, she had an X-ray and found she had suffered a compression fracture of her L2 vertebra.
“Being off work wasn’t really an option for me,” said Dawn, who lives alone and has chronic diabetes.
She was also concerned about taking opioid medications like Percocet, which she had been prescribed at the emergency room.
“I didn’t want to be dependent on them. I don’t like the way they make you feel anyway.”
Emergency room physicians referred Dawn to a spine surgeon. After determining that Dawn’s spinal fracture was caused by osteoporosis, her surgeon performed a minimally invasive surgical procedure called balloon kyphoplasty that uses balloons and cement in an innovative technique that has been shown to bring many patients rapid pain relief after just one hour.
Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of pathological fractures of the vertebral body due to osteoporosis, cancer, or benign lesion.
With her pain having gone away and her activity level improved after her balloon kyphoplasty, Dawn has begun seeing an endocrinologist to manage her osteoporosis with calcium therapy and bisphosphonate medications.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What causes spinal fractures?
Most are caused by osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Certain types of cancer or tumors also can cause spinal fractures.
How common are spinal fractures?
Worldwide, one in three women and one in eight men over age 50 are affected by osteoporosis, a common cause of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).1 Many VCFs go undiagnosed and untreated — often because people consider back pain a normal part of aging and don’t mention it to their doctors. But if you leave it untreated, you could be at risk for more injury and even death.2-6
What are the typical symptoms of a spinal fracture?
A spinal fracture may cause mild to severe back pain and can occur after simple daily activities such as sneezing or lifting a light object. You may have a vertebral compression fracture if you:
• Have sudden onset of severe, sharp back pain that lasts longer than 3 days AND
• Are over 50 OR
• Have been told you have osteoporosis or low bone density.
How are spinal fractures diagnosed?
Your doctor may press on your back to locate the source of your pain. You’ll have images like an x-ray or MRI scan taken of your spine to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the benefits of Kyphon™ Balloon
Compared to non-surgical treatment like a back brace or oral medication, clinical studies have shown that people with spinal fractures treated with BKP experienced several benefits:1, 7-9
• Less back pain
• More quality of life
• Better mobility
• Less time on bed rest and fewer days when pain interferes with daily activities
• Satisfaction with the procedure
How does balloon kyphoplasty work?
Your doctor will decide if local or general anesthesia is the right option for your procedure.
• One or two small incisions are made, about 1 cm long.
• A small pathway is made into the fractured
bone, and an orthopedic balloon is inserted.
Is Kyphon™ Balloon Kyphoplasty covered by insurance?
In most cases, BKP is covered by Medicare and private insurance carriers. If you have questions regarding your policy or coverage, contact your insurance carrier.
Who performs Kyphon™
Specialists trained to perform the BKP procedure include some orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, interventional radiologists, and pain medicine doctors. If you think you have a spinal fracture, you may need to see your primary care doctor for a diagnosis, and if necessary, get a referral to a specialist for treatment with balloon kyphoplasty.
For more information, visit: spine-facts.com
Balloon Kyphoplasty incorporates technology developed by Gary K. Michelson, M.D
1. Lau E, Ong K, Kurtz S, et al. Mortality following the diagnosis of a vertebral compression fracture in the Medicare population. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008 Jul;90(7):1479-1486. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00675.
2. Brunton S, Carmichael B, Gold D, et al. Vertebral compression fractures in primary care: recommendations from a consensus panel. J Fam Pract. 2005;54(9):781-788.