Kyphoplasty Relieves Spinal Fracture Pain

Minimally invasive procedure immobilizes broken vertebrae from within.

Pam Wood walking her dog

Relieved of her severe back pain, Pam can walk her dog, Oliver, without discomfort.

Before she reached her eighth birthday, Pam Wood knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.

“I love to take care of people, so I thought nursing would be perfect for me,” Pam relates.

Pam’s path to a nursing career began with a stint as a personal care aide (PCA) at a nursing home. At the same time, she was also working part time at a shoe factory while attending nursing school at night and on weekends.

“I was also taking care of my husband, who was sick with cancer at the time,” Pam offers.

Upon earning her nursing degree, Pam took a job as a medical-surgical nurse. She later found her niche when she became a geriatric nurse in a specialized Alzheimer’s unit at an upstate New York nursing home.

“The elderly people I took care of had so many stories to tell, and a lot of them were just fascinating,” Pam adds. “I love to listen to people tell their life histories, so I loved that job. I worked in that Alzheimer’s unit for 12 years.”

Two decades ago, Pam’s career came to an abrupt halt after injuries sustained in an automobile accident forced her to go on disability.

“I was taking my father for a radiation treatment, and we were in a very busy section of a parkway when a car pulled in front of me and slammed on its brakes,” Pam recalls. “I stopped, but the truck behind me did not.

“I suffered whiplash, and my hips were forced out of place. Over the years, the pain in my hips got increasingly worse. On a scale of one to 10, my pain level was off the charts. It bothered me so much I could hardly walk.”

Pam later moved to Florida, where her new primary care physician recommended that she visit Harold J. Cordner, MD, a board-certified pain management specialist at Florida Pain Management Associates in Sebastian and Vero Beach.

Dr. Cordner has an arsenal of treatment options, which he delved into for Pam: a series of injections that alleviated her hip pain for the first time since the accident.

“Dr. Cordner was the first doctor in 21 years who was able to help me with my hip pain,” raves Pam, who turned to Dr. Cordner again this past May after she sustained a vertebral compression fracture in her spine.

“I was helping a neighbor and he fell right on top of me, all 200 pounds of him, which did not feel good,” Pam laments. “The pain was so severe that I just collapsed to the ground. There’s no scale for that kind of pain. It was so bad that I went to the emergency room, and I don’t go to the emergency room for anything.

At the ER, a CT scan and x-ray confirmed that Pam fractured her L5 vertebra near the waist. (The lower back is made up of five lumbar vertebrae, labeled with an “L” and numbered top to bottom.)

“They made an appointment for me with an orthopedic surgeon, but the office kept delaying the appointment,” she says. “I was scheduled to visit Dr. Cordner for my hip, and when he read the CT scan and x-ray reports of my back, he said, I can fix that right here in the office.

Rewarding Procedure

“There are several options for treating spinal fractures, including leaving them alone because they can eventually heal on their own; but that can take months,” Dr. Cordner observes. “Another option is to put the patient in a back brace to immobilize their spine. Or, I can perform a minimally invasive procedure called kyphoplasty.”

During kyphoplasty, a physician places a needle into the bone at the site of the break and inserts a device to create a channel, or cavity, within the bone. The physician then injects bone cement, which fills the cavity and hardens in 10 to 20 minutes.

“Kyphoplasty is an excellent solution because it immobilizes the spine from within and enables patients to function and be active,” Dr. Cordner emphasizes. “And movement promotes the formation of new bone. It was for all those reasons that I recommended kyphoplasty for Pam.”

One of the advantages of kyphoplasty is that it works quickly, which alleviates the need for patients to suffer for months while waiting for the fracture to heal.

“More than 90 percent of patients achieve good to excellent pain relief within the first 24 to 48 hours of undergoing a kyphoplasty,” the doctor asserts. “Patients can then quickly return to their activities of daily living, and they don’t need to wear a back brace following the procedure.

“Of all the procedures we offer, kyphoplasty is probably the most successful. It gets patients as close to 100 percent as medically possible. It is a very rewarding procedure to perform because patients with spinal fractures are typically in agony and almost immediately afterward feel relief and can move without discomfort.”

Immediate Relief

Dr. Cordner performed Pam’s kyphoplasty just days after reading her imaging tests. Pam is amazed by how quickly the procedure gave her a reprieve from her excruciating pain.

“The relief was immediate,” Pam enthuses. “I noticed a difference before I even got off the table. I was able to sit up, which I couldn’t do before without help. When I got off the treatment table, I could actually walk and not cry with pain. It was wonderful.

“Now, I can do whatever I feel like doing. I can go for a walk or sit with my friends and play cards, so I don’t have to just sit around the house anymore.

“I absolutely recommend this procedure. It saves you from surgery. And I recommend Dr. Cordner as well.

Dr. Cordner is an absolute genius. God gave him a gift, and he knows how to use it. He’s amazing.

“I’m very blessed to be here in Florida and to have Dr. Cordner as my pain management doctor.”

© FHCN staff article. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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