PT eDigest

PTD1114_SpineVertical compression fractures, in which all or part of the spine bone collapses, are commonly caused by osteoporosis, the thinning of the bone. Other causes include certain cancers that weaken the bones and direct trauma to the spine, such as one incurred in an automobile accident. If you have endured severe debilitating spinal pain over a two-month period, your physician may recommend kyphoplasty, surgery intended to eliminate the pain while stabilizing the bone and preserving the height of the vertebrae. For best results, kyphoplasty should take place within eight weeks of the initial fracture.

Although the surgery is a delicate procedure, the steps are very simple:

  1. You lie face down on the table, receive either a local or general anesthetic, and the location on your back is cleaned.
  2. Through a small incision made in your back, the surgeon inserts a narrow tube into the fractured spinal bone, using real-time x-ray technology.
  3.  A special balloon is threaded through the tube into the affected vertebra and is gently inflated to elevate the fracture, returning the bones to their normal position by restoring their height.
  4.  After the balloon is removed, the surgeon removes the tube and injects a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) into the vertebra. The pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone to prevent it from collapsing.
  5. The procedure is repeated as necessary for other vertebrae with compression fractures.

After the surgery we can begin a therapy program specifically designed for you that will strengthen your back muscles, helping you to stabilize your back, increase flexibility and avoid osteoporosis. Physical therapy allows the spine to better acclimate to the effects of the surgery. Ultimately, it will help lock in the results of the surgery, allowing you to live your life with less pain and medication.

This therapy will begin in the hospital within 48 to 72 hours of surgery and continue with a program that we coordinate with your physician before you have been discharged. Let us know if you are about to undergo spine surgery so that we can work with your surgeon to design and schedule an appropriate program of rehabilitation.

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