At AZ Pain Treatment Centers, we treat patients with osteoporosis (a decrease in the amount of bone mass) or patients that have thinning of the bones that puts them at risk for spine fractures (broken bones).
Thinning of the bones can occur at any age, but it is most common in older adults. If weakened bone in the spine collapses, this is called a “compression” fracture. This usually causes severe back pain.
When several of the bones collapse, loss of height or stooped posture (sometimes called “widow’s hump”) may occur. Usually, the fracture gets better by itself, and the pain finally goes away, but some patients have ongoing pain because the collapsed bone continues to move and break.
Most fractures of the spine are treated with bed rest until the pain goes away. Pain medicines, back braces and physical therapy may also be used. For some patients, doctors may prescribe a medicine called calcitonin. It appears to help make the bone stronger. Sometimes, patients may need surgery to secure the spine using a bone graft or an internal metal device. A treatment called vertebroplasty may help hold the fractured bone in place and relieve pain.
Percutaneous vertebroplasty is a procedure that involves placing a small needle into the crushed bone. Our doctor guides the needle into position using special X-ray equipment and a bone cement is injected into the bone to secure it. Several crushed bones can be treated at the same time and it is usually done using only numbing medicine (local anesthetic).
Many patients feel pain relief right away after vertebroplasty. Most report that their pain is gone or is much better within 48 hours. Most patients resume normal activity within 24 hours.