Each year about 700,000 people with osteoporosis develop vertebral compression fractures, where a crack in the spine causes one or more vertebrae to collapse. While osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones, is the most common cause of compression fractures, they also may occur due to trauma or tumors.

Compression fractures represent a unique spine problem because they are common, take a long time to heal and usually cause persistent pain and prolonged disability. Left untreated in patients with osteoporosis, compression fractures can lead to stooped posture, loss of movement, blood clots in veins and extreme muscle weakness.

Sometimes compression fractures respond to bed rest, pain medications and external braces. If these measures provide less than adequate results, your doctor may recommend other measures, such as steroid injections directly into the spine or major surgery. Traditionally, surgery for compression fractures required invasive procedures, a prolonged recovery and a high rate of failure due to weak underlying bone. 


What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty stabilizes fractures or strengthens areas weakened by osteoporosis, trauma or tumor by inserting a balloon filled with a cement-like substance into the affected vertebrae. About 90 percent of patients report immediate relief of back pain after kyphoplasty. Most return to their normal activities within two days.


Candidates for Kyphoplasty

Our physicians highly recommend that patients with osteoporosis and compression fractures of the spine be evaluated immediately for kyphoplasty. Do not wait to see if the fracture will heal on its own. The damage could become permanent.

Other patients who may benefit from kyphoplasty are those whose compression fractures are less than a year old, have metabolic disorders or have had prolonged steroid therapy. Kyphoplasty is inappropriate for arthritis-related pain, degenerative disk disease or ruptured disks.


X-Stop Spacer

Back and leg pain from lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) occurs when the space between the
vertebrae is reduced, causing bone or tissue to come in contact with the spinal nerve. Most people with LSS get relief from pain when they bend forward or sit down. That's because this position opens the space around the pinched nerve. The X-STOP Spacer uses this principle and can provide sustained relief—even when you stand up straight and walk.

Lifting the pressure off of pinched nerves relieves pain

The X-STOP Spacer is a small implant that fits between two bones in the back of your spine—at the level of the pinched nerve. You can feel these bones, called the spinous processes, when you run your fingers down your spine. Once in place, the X-STOP Spacer can lift the vertebra off the pinched nerve. Learn more about your spine and the causes of nerve damage.

Sustained pain relief—even when you stand and walk

The unique X-STOP Spacer is designed to stay safely and permanently in place without being attached to bone or ligaments, by screws or other hardware, and there's no fusion involved. It works with your spinal anatomy to keep the space around the nerve open— and can relieve your pain and other symptoms—even when you stand up straight and walk. With the X-STOP Spacer you should not need to bend forward to relieve your symptoms.

The X-STOP Spacer may relieve the kinds of pain and discomfort caused by LSS:

  • Dull or aching back pain that travels to your legs
  • Numbness and a pins-and-needles sensation in your legs, calves, or buttocks

The X-STOP Spacer works with your anatomy to stay in place. Unlike other spine surgeries, nothing is attached to bone or ligament and the procedure does not result in spinal fusion.

Short recovery and rapid pain relief

The X-STOP Spacer is implanted during a short procedure—typically 45 to 90 minutes. In some patients, it can be performed on an outpatient basis and with local anesthesia. This is an especially important benefit for people who should avoid general anesthesia due to their age or other health conditions. You and your surgeon will decide what's best for you.

The X-STOP procedure is minimally invasive. It’s not like traditional surgery, such as a laminectomy, which removes structurally important bone (lamina) and tissue (ligaments that connect the vertebrae). The X-STOP Spacer preserves your anatomy and your spinal stability. That’s why it may offer a short recovery time and a low complication rate and the spacer is not positioned close to nerves or the spinal column, but rather, behind the spinal cord between the spinous processes.

Major surgery, like a laminectomy, removes parts of your vertebrae and ligaments that protect and stabilize your spine. The X-STOP procedure preserves your spinal anatomy.

Conservative treatment for adults begins with the treatment of osteoporosis, if any is present. Treatment of osteoporosis may also slow the progression of scoliosis. Current recommendations include an increase in calcium and vitamin D intake, hormone replacement therapy, and weight-bearing exercises. Exercise may help to relieve pain but will not affect the natural history of the curve.