Vertebroplasty offers relief from back pain

Norman Walsh is pain-free after undergoing a vertebroplasty.

Norman Walsh is pain-free after undergoing a vertebroplasty.

Prescott Valley resident Norman Walsh was in extreme pain and could barely move from his bed before he recently underwent a vertebroplasty procedure to treat spinal compression fractures.

“The pain had been excruciating … a 10 or 11 every time I tried to turn over or move. It was awful,” he said.

Osteoporosis and certain types of cancers can cause these types of fractures, leading to a collapsed veterbrae and debilitating pain. The condition interrupts a person’s ability to be active and can lead to other complications related to remaining sedentary.

“Many patients must stay chair-bound or bedridden for the pain to be bearable. Since most compression fractures take several months to fully heal, such immobility can lead to depression, blood clots, and other adverse health outcomes, in addition to increasing stress among loved ones and caregivers,” said Dr. David Lloyd, a partner with Prescott Radiologists and a board-certified, fellowship-trained neuroradiologist who specializes in back pain-relieving procedures.

Lloyd is the director of the Percutaneous Spine Procedure Program at Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott.

When pain medicine, rest and other conservative medical therapies do not benefit a patient, vertebroplasty is an option, Lloyd said. This is a minimally invasive procedure performed by a radiologist who uses image guidance to inject medical-grade cement into the collapsed vertebra to stabilize it. When successful, the patient experiences pain relief, he said.

Prompt evaluation by an interventional radiologist will maximize a successful result. After a certain amount of time has elapsed, it can be harder to treat the fracture and relieve pain.

“The pain from vertebral compression fractures is usually so severe that most patients are severely restricted in their mobility. Hobbies and even basic chores are difficult to impossible to perform. Patients frequently have a hard time even dressing themselves, and even very active, otherwise healthy patients, must begin using a walker or wheelchair. By quickly relieving the pain, patients quickly resume their normal, baseline activity level,” Lloyd said.

Walsh concurs.

“I woke up (from the procedure) completely pain-free. It was like a miracle,” Walsh said.

Now, only a few weeks after the procedure, Walsh said he is going out to eat and to church and doing things he wasn’t able to do for months.

The beautiful thing about vertebroplasty is its safety, effectiveness, and quick results. Vertebroplasty provides almost immediate pain relief in over 90 percent of patients,” Lloyd said. “The majority of patients will notice complete pain relief the same day, while the rest will heal completely within the first couple of days after treatment. The procedure is also minimally invasive, meaning the patient does not need general anesthesia and can return home the same day as the procedure.”

For more information, contact Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott at 928-771-8477 for a consultation.

This article first appeared in Yavapai Regional Medical Center HealthConnect 2.0.