Vertebral compression fractures affect approximately 25 percent of all postmenopausal women in the United States and are recognized as the hallmark of osteoporosis. The prevalence of this condition steadily increases with advancing age, reaching 40 percent in women 80 years of age. Although less common in older men, compression fractures also are a major health concern in this group. Acute and chronic pain in the elderly is commonly attributed to severe pain from vertebral compression and often leads to further disability. In addition to physical limitations, vertebral compression fractures may produce a psychosocial and emotional burden on the aging person who already faces losses of independent function. This may cause the person to worry about what the future may bring. These worries are not unfounded, because there is a substantial risk of subsequent fractures of all types and further morbidity in persons who have had a vertebral compression fracture.
About one third of vertebral fractures are actually diagnosed, because many patients and families regard back pain symptoms as “arthritis” or a normal part of aging. Dr. Nomen Azeem, Interventional Pain/Sports Medicine Physician at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates states, “It is vital to conduct a thorough physical examination as close to the onset of pain symptoms as possible. This is combined with imaging such as X-ray and/or MRI of the spine to confirm the diagnosis. When it comes to vertebral compression fractures, the sooner you can treat the patient, the better!”
Conservative treatment includes analgesic, muscle relaxers, a back brace and physical therapy. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatment or who continue to have severe pain may be candidates for percutaneous kyphoplasty. Percutaneous kyphoplasty involves using a high-pressure balloon which is placed into the center of the collapsed vertebral bone to restore the shape and height meanwhile creating a cavity. After the cavity is created, acrylic cement is injected into the collapsed vertebra to stabilize and strengthen the fracture and vertebral body. According to Dr. Azeem, “Kyphoplasty is a great option in the appropriately selected patient. It is amazing the magnitude of pain relief that is reported by the patient immediately following the procedure.”
The physicians at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates are committed to getting our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life. Same day appointments are available in our three offices located in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and Venice. You may call 941-951-BONE (2663) for an appointment.