People suffering from osteoporosis are at a greater risk for bone fractures. Most times patients are older and may be ill equipped for traditional treatment options.
“In the past typically these osteoporotic injuries were treated with medicines, rest, maybe bracing. The population in the 70 and 80 year-olds and the 90 year-olds if they tend not to move or move around that could potentially cause other problems,” says Dr. Paul Fuchs, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Moving is extremely painful and laying down too much presents potential for blood clots and pneumonia. But a newer procedure corrects the problem without the downtime and without surgery.
“Now that kyphoplasty has been developed it’s one way we can stabilize the fracture which is what we want to do. It’s more of an internal stabilization of a fracture and the pain improvement is quick and drastic,” says Dr. Fuchs.
In a kyphoplasty procedure a slender tool is placed through a tiny incision into the cracked vertebrae. The technique uses orthopedic balloons to lift the fractured bone and return it to its correct position. Medical-grade cement then fills in the bone and stabilizes the fracture. It acts as an internal cast, holding the bones in place.
“It takes four to five minutes for that cement to harden and once it hardens the fracture is essentially healed. The pain relief is significant. And the patients can traditionally go home that day,” says Dr. Fuchs.
The internal casting of kyphoplasty is helping select patients get back on their feet and back to the pastimes they enjoy.