Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My father has a compression fracture in the middle of his back. His doctor has suggested doing a kyphoplasty but Dad is putting it off. If he waits too long, will it be too late?

Answer:

There is some concern that the compressed and fractured bone will result in more load being transferred to the adjacent bones. In patients who are osteoporotic, this could create enough force to cause further fractures.

Patients often assume an increased flexed or stooped position after vertebral compression fractures. This posture seems to help reduce their pain. However, a kyphotic (stooped) posture puts additional strain on already weakened bone.

A recent study from the University of California (San Diego) showed no difference in results after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with spinal fractures less than 60 days old compared to fractures older than 60 days.

Results of this same study showed fast pain relief for older fractures. With decreased pain, patients were able to increase activity and function quickly. Most reported an improved quality of life. Your father may want to take advantage of those benefits sooner than later. Steven R. Garfin, MD, et al. Balloon Kyphoplasty for Symptomatic Vertebral Body Compression Fractures Results in Rapid, Significant, and Sustained Improvements in Back Pain, Function, and Quality of Life for Elderly Patients. In Spine. September 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 19. Pp. 2213-2220.

*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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