If you have lower back pain, you’ve got a lot of company. The World Health Organization says low back pain is very common worldwide, affecting as many as 70% of people in industrialized countries like the United States.
Lots of factors can cause lower back pain, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Poor core muscle tone
- Poor posture
- Muscle strain
- Overuse or repetitive use
- Traumatic injury
Other types of back pain become more common as we get older. As bone density decreases (a condition called osteoporosis), the spine becomes weaker, less flexible, and more prone to tiny breaks called compression fractures.
As a leading pain management physician with locations in Carmel, Indianapolis, and Kokomo, Indiana, Jonathan Gentile, MD, uses a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedure called kyphoplasty to treat lower back pain due to osteoporosis and compression fractures. Here’s how this advanced procedure works to relieve painful symptoms.
How compression fractures happen
Some compression fractures are caused by traumatic injuries from falls or car accidents. But most are due to osteoporosis, which causes a loss of bone density and strength in your spine. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says compression fractures are about twice as common as other osteoporosis-related fractures, affecting about 700,000 Americans each year.
As the vertebrae become less dense, they also become thinner, and the space between them grows narrower. Over time, tiny compression fractures form.
Initially, you may have no noticeable symptoms. But as the condition progresses, you can develop issues like:
- Chronic lower back pain
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in your arms or legs
- Weakness in your arms or legs
- Problems walking or coordinating movements
- Bladder or bowel leakage
When compression fractures happen in the upper spine, they can create a “hump” or rounded shape in the affected part of your back. This rounding of the spine is called kyphosis.
How kyphoplasty works
Kyphoplasty helps relieve compression fracture symptoms by strengthening and stabilizing the affected part of the spine, while also restoring the space between your vertebrae. To achieve both those goals, Dr. Gentile uses a special balloon and surgical cement injected through a hollow needle.
Your procedure begins with sedation to keep you relaxed and comfortable. Dr. Gentile uses X-rays to guide the placement of the needle.
Once it’s in place, he inserts the balloon and inflates it very gradually and gently to restore the normal space between the bones. Next, he injects the cement to help maintain that space and keep the area stable.
The kyphoplasty procedure is performed in just about an hour, and in most cases, you can go home the same day after a brief period of recovery. Most people notice an immediate relief of their back pain, and they’re able to walk around within an hour or so of their procedure. Dr. Gentile will provide you with a list of activity restrictions to help you heal comfortably and quickly.
Learn more about kyphoplasty
Lower back pain may be more common with older age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “natural part” of aging. To learn how Dr. Gentile can help you relieve your painful back symptoms using kyphoplasty or another advanced technique, call the office or book an appointment using our online form.