Kyphoplasty: Long-Term Care

Among the treatments for back pain associated with spine compression fracture, kyphoplasty is an effective minimally-invasive surgery that works by repairing collapsed vertebrae. Because it doesn’t require large incisions, recovery from kyphoplasty surgery is relatively quick.

Typically, you can drive and go back to (most) work two days afterward and can return to strenuous exercise at four to six weeks. However, treatment doesn’t end with surgery; it takes attention and lifestyle adjustments to ensure back problems don’t come back.

If you’re considering this treatment, it’s crucial to understand what long-term care after kyphoplasty looks like.

Nurse holding spine model against the patients back
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Benefits of Surgery

One of the main reasons kyphoplasty is a popular option is that, barring complications, it delivers results quickly. Back pain is expected to disappear or be greatly reduced within two days, with some feeling instant relief. Not only that, patients who’ve had this surgery don’t experience any limitations to their motion, and 75% regain lost mobility.

For osteoporosis patients, the increased range of motion is particularly beneficial because increasing exercise helps strengthen bones and is linked with a lower incidence of falls or accidents. Spine compression fracture is most commonly seen in osteoporosis, a progressive thinning and weakening of the bones, though bone cancer or injury can also cause it.

The big question, then, is how best to preserve these benefits and stop back pain from coming back. Here’s a quick breakdown of what can help:

  • Physical therapy isn’t always necessary following kyphoplasty; however, it can be helpful in stopping pain from returning and developing strength to improve stability and mobility. Physical therapists develop individualized exercises for patients to promote healthy healing and prevent future injury.
  • Taking supplements that promote bone health, such as vitamin D, calcium, or magnesium is usually recommended to help slow the progression of osteoporosis.
  • Be mindful of signs of complications and call 911 if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or paralysis of one or both legs. Let your doctor know immediately if you experience swelling or heat at the incision site, muscle weakness, high fever, numbness, tingling or pain in the treated area, or loss of bowel or bladder control.
  • Wear your back brace if your doctor asks you to. These are only sometimes necessary following surgery, but they’re very helpful in certain cases.

Possible Future Surgeries

Though complications are rare, they can occur, and sometimes the procedure doesn’t actually succeed in reducing pain. In these cases, additional treatment may be necessary, including:

  • Vertebroplasty: If pain doesn’t resolve, and especially if symptoms like muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness accompany it, surgery may be indicated to reinforce the affected area. Unlike kyphoplasty, which relies on the use of a special balloon to guide the work, vertebroplasty involves directly applying bone cement to the damaged vertebra.
  • Revision surgery: Sometimes pieces of the bone cement leak from the vertebrae. While this is usually asymptomatic, if parts of the spinal cord are impacted, or if they get to the lungs, additional surgery will be used to extract them.

Managing back pain is an ongoing process, and in many cases, kyphoplasty will be just one element of a range of treatments. Along with physical therapy, some doctors may call for additional pain managing treatments, such as massage, or electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.

Lifestyle Adjustments

As with most other surgeries, ensuring the positive results of kyphoplasty means making some significant lifestyle adjustments. These are especially important for osteoporosis patients, as they help prevent the progression of the disease. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Get regular exercise: Incorporating adequate exercise, especially some work involving weight-bearing, helps promote bone health, along with other health benefits. Staying active should be a life-long priority.
  • Eat healthy: Along with supplementation, you can help promote the success of the surgery by ensuring you’re eating a well-balanced and healthy diet that emphasizes fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Quit smoking: Among the many negative effects of tobacco smoking is that it can negatively affect bone density. Ask for your doctor’s advice if quitting is difficult for you.
  • Limit alcohol: While moderate consumption isn’t an issue, studies have found excessive drinking to be detrimental to bone health.

A Word From Verywell

Back pain can be very difficult to manage, and oftentimes multiple approaches are necessary to yield results. Though not guaranteed to succeed, kyphoplasty is a well-tolerated and largely successful.

However, this surgery is only one part of the process, and good outcomes also depend on what you do afterward. With the help of your doctor, as well as the support of your loved ones, though, there’s no doubt that you can get the best of your back pain.

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Article Sources
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