Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My aging father got up out of his chair one morning and two of his vertebrae fractured. The doctor is suggesting a treatment called vertebroplasty. Is it really worth it to have this operation just for the pain relief when the spine will eventually get better by itself?

Answer:

This is a decision each individual must make for him or herself. Pain tolerances vary from person to person. For most people, the pain of a vertebral compression fracture is very disabling. It takes four to six weeks (or more) before the spine heals itself.

During the recovery time there is a tendency to stay in a forward bent position to help ease the pain. Healing in this position will cause more problems later with increased pressure on the spine and compressed organs in the chest.

Most people get immediate relief from pain with a vertebroplasty. There are even studies that suggest the cement injected into the fractured bone helps restore some of the strength and stiffness needed for normal spinal movement.

Najma Farooq, MRCS, et al. Can Vertebroplasty Restore Normal Load-Bearing to Fractured Vertebrae? In Spine. August 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 15. Pp. 1723-1730.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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