May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans. Many are often unaware that they have the disease until they fracture a bone. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that half of the American women and one-fourth of American men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.
Each year an estimated 2 million suffering with osteoporosis experience a fracture--many are in the spine. Spinal fractures can result in back pain, height loss, spinal deformity and an increased risk of death. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 out of 3 osteoporotic spinal fractures go undiagnosed and untreated.
Balloon Kyphoplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure has been shown to be effective treatment for repairing spinal fractures and providing immediate and sustained improvements in pain and mobility. In addition to relieving their back pain, Balloon Kyphoplasty also restored the height of the patient's fractured vertebra. Since 1998, more than 220,000 spinal fractures worldwide have been treated with Balloon Kyphoplasty (from Medtronic, Inc.)
To better understand your fracture risk, regular bone mineral density (BMD) screenings are recommended. The BMD test measures the solidness and mass (bone density) in the spine, hip, and/or wrist, which are the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis. Other tests measure bone density in the heel or hand. These tests are performed like x-rays. They are painless, noninvasive, and safe. The risk of radiation is very minimal, much less than even having a chest x-ray film.
**It is imperative that the warning sign of severe, new back pain trigger a search for the fracture. MRI scans can often detect whether a fracture is new or old--that is important, since new fractures are much more responsive (especially within a few weeks) to treatment with kyphoplasty, whereas older fractures are very unlikely to benefit**.
To learn more about this minimally-invasive procedure and to hear a patient's testimonial, visit us at http://www.brainspinecare.com/kyphoplasty.
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