Approximately 700,000 vertebral, or spinal bone, fractures occur each year —
usually in women over the age of 60. Researchers estimate that at least 25
percent of women and a somewhat smaller percentage of men over the age of 50
will suffer one or more spinal fractures. Younger people also suffer these
fractures, particularly those whose bones have become fragile due to the
long-term use of steroids or other drugs to treat a variety of diseases such
as lupus, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Of particular concern are spinal
fractures caused by a progressive weakening of the bone -- a condition
called osteoporosis. The pain and loss of movement that often accompany bone
fractures of the spine are perhaps the most feared and debilitating side
effects of osteoporosis. For many people with osteoporosis, a spinal
fracture means severely limited activity, constant pain and a serious
reduction in the quality of their lives.
Fractures of the vertebrae have traditionally been much more difficult to
manage than broken bones in the hip, wrist or elsewhere. These broken bones
can often be
successfully treated with surgery. But because surgery on the spine is
extremely difficult and risky, it has typically not been used to treat
vertebral fractures associated with osteoporosis except as a last resort.
Until recently, reduced activity and pain medications, many of which cause
problematic side effects, or invasive (and often unsuccessful) back surgery
were virtually the only treatments available.
Today,however, there is a
safe, non-surgical interventional radiology treatment called
Vertebroplasty (ver-TEE-bro-plasty) that has been shown to be extremely
reducing or eliminating the pain caused by spinal fractures.
|How new is the Vertebroplasty
|The vertebroplasty procedure was
first performed in France in 1984. It was first performed in the
United States in the early 1990's Thousands of procedures have been
performed since that time.