PrizmSpinal Fractures

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As we grow through childhood and our teen years, bone growth is faster than other times, and bones become larger, denser and heavier.

Then as we enter our thirties, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed formation, which reduces bone mass by about 1% each year. In particular, as women enter the late forties and early fifties, menopause can accelerate this bone loss.

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1. A narrow tube is inserted through the incision
using fluoroscopy to guide it into the correct
position in the damaged vertebrae.

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2. Using the tube as a channel, the doctor then
guides a special balloon into the vertebral body.

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3. The balloon is then carefully inflated, restoring
the vertebrae to a more normal shape.

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4. It also creates a cavity in the vertebral body by
compacting the soft inner bone material.

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5. The balloon is then deflated and gently removed.
Special instruments are used to fill the cavity with
a soft cement-like material which quickly hardens
to stabilize the vertebrae.

About osteoporosis

During osteoporosis, bone (osteo) becomes more porous (porosis). If a person has osteoporosis, bones become weaker and more brittle. This can lead to fractures. Osteoporosis can progress over years, and may have no symptoms until a devastating fracture occurs. If the osteoporosis occurs in a vertebra within the back or neck, the bony vertebra can crack and collapse. This vertebral fracture can cause severe back pain, nerve pain, along with spinal deformities like kyphosis where the spine becomes stooped over.

What causes osteoporosis?

Physicians believe poor nutrition or lack of exercise during the bone-forming years can lead to osteoporosis. Other things that can contribute to osteoporosis include: smoking, excessive alcohol, lack of exercise and poor nutrition.

Underweight or skinny women with smaller, thinner bones can be more prone to osteoporosis and may also be more susceptible to hormonal changes with aging. Other times, osteoporosis may be caused by other health conditions, such as hormone imbalances, arthritis and joint disease, use of medications like steroids, and some diseases or treatments of the digestive system.

A person can prevent or slow down the disease process of osteoporosis by having good nutrition, with sufficient amounts of calcium (found in citrus, milk or dairy products) and vitamin D, which are necessary for bone growth.

Weight-bearing exercises also make bones stronger as they respond to the load placed on them, much like a muscle. Good exercises for osteoporosis include walking, climbing stairs, dancing, and tennis. Weightlifting, provided you don’t lift too heavy of weights, is helpful.

Swimming and other exercising in water can create an artificial weightlessness which lessens impact on bones and joints for the older person. You can also positively affect bone health by eliminating smoking and managing your intake of alcohol.

Treatment options for spinal fractures from osteoporosis

Spinal fractures from osteoporosis typically need surgical treatment. Spinal fractures can be repaired by using procedures called kyphoplasty and percutaneous vertebroplasty.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is minimally invasive, requiring only a very small incision in the back. In kyphoplasty, the vertebral body is first prepared for the cement by using a balloon to inflate and reshape the vertebra. As the cement is injected into the vertebrae, it hardens and the vertebral body regains its normal shape. With the vertebrae shape and height restored, the pressure on the nerves is reduced, easing the pain.

Percutaneous Vertebroplasty
Percutaneous vertebroplasty uses an epoxy cement injected into fractured vertebrae. The epoxy becomes rock-hard within minutes, yet is light and supportive. Percutaneous vertebroplasty does not necessarily restore the physiological shape of the vertebra, but does reduce further disintegration.

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