A spinal fracture is extremely painful, and when surgery is not advised say for the elderly or people with Osteoporosis, those people are faced with a lot of bed rest and drugs to help relieve the pain.
Even then, other complications could set in like Pneumonia. Now, there is a safe, non-surgical treatment to relieve the pain of a spinal fracture. It's called Verteebroplasty, and it's an out-patient procedure with no stitches, just a needle. "What we're able to do is use x-ray guidance to insert a small needle about the size of a cocktail straw through the skin directly into the bone, and then, we fill the bone with a bone cement to stabilize the fracture on the inside," says Dr. Kevin McGraw, Radiologist. "The bone cement is black, and we mix in barium so that we can see it on x-ray, and it fills up the cracks to stabilize it from the inside. It's truly amazing. You take a patient who is bed ridden and you do the procedure, and a few hours later, they can walk out of the hospital."
Verteebroplasty is available in Lubbock. Dr. Jonathon Metzler tells me that it's a fairly new procedure, but his team at Covenant Hospital has done about 150 procedures already. He says Verteebroplasty is one of those innovative procedures in which they're really not sure why it works. Maybe, he says, the cement gives off some heat that burns away the nerve endings, or maybe the cement just braces it so there's no pain.
At any rate, Dr. Metzler says that they've found that it does work very well in relieving the pain of a spinal fracture, without surgery.