How kyphoplasty relieves back pain

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Vertebral compression fractures are the most common type of spinal fracture and cannot heal on their own. If left untreated, these fractures can cause serious health problems. Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive spine surgery that restores lost vertebral height and decreases back pain in individuals with vertebral compression fractures.

This unique procedure is just one of many advanced treatment options available at Southwest Spine and Pain Center.

This series of photos shows steps in the procedure of kyphoplasty (balloon vertebroplasty) | Photos by / Swarm Interactive courtesy of Southwest Spine and Pain Center, St. George News
This series of photos shows steps in the procedure of kyphoplasty (balloon vertebroplasty) | Photos by / Swarm Interactive courtesy of Southwest Spine and Pain Center, St. George News

What conditions can kyphoplasty treat?

Kyphoplasty may relieve chronic pain in advanced osteoporosis patients with severe vertebral compression fractures. Osteoporosis causes bone to lose its density, mass and strength, leaving the skeletal structures porous and highly susceptible to fractures.

In some cases, pain may gradually worsen over time, while other patients will notice a sudden onset of sharp pain. Symptoms of a spinal compression fracture could include sudden, severe back pain, pain when twisting, pain when bending down, loss of range of motion and loss of spinal height.

What to expect during surgery

The patient will lie face down, and local anesthetic will be administered to reduce pain felt during the procedure. A tiny incision will be made, through which the physician will insert a small balloon catheter and a fluoroscope, which projects a live x-ray image onto a screen to assist the medical team.

As soon as the balloon is in place, the doctor will carefully inflate it to elevate the fracture. This returns the bone to a normal position and height and creates a space inside the vertebrae. Once the balloon has been inflated to the maximum level, it will be deflated and removed.

The pain management doctor will then fill the cavity with medical-grade bone cement to restore bone height and stabilize the spine. After surgery, the patient will spend a short time in recovery before being allowed to return home.

Risk and complications

With any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complication. Risks specific to kyphoplasty are low but may include: an allergic reaction to the solution used for imaging purposes, leaking of the bone cement into the epidural space, nerve injury or damage and damage to the spinal cord.

Benefits of kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty has many benefits, including short recovery time, minimal blood loss and short procedure time. Many patients are able to return to normal activities very quickly following the procedure.

Are you a candidate for kyphoplasty?

This procedure is usually recommended for those suffering from symptoms including chronic or severe pain, limited mobility, decreased lung capacity and difficulty sleeping. Kyphoplasty may benefit those with recent osteoporotic compression fractures (fractures that have occurred within 8 weeks). Unfortunately, kyphoplasty cannot rectify previous and already-established spinal deformities, and certain types of osteoporotic fractures may not qualify for treatment.

Schedule a consultation at Southwest Spine and Pain Center to find out if you are a candidate for kyphoplasty. With five locations in Utah and growing, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those suffering from spine and chronic pain conditions.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


  • Southwest Spine and Pain in St. George: 652 S. Medical Center Drive, Suite 110 | Telephone 435-656-2424 | Hours: Monday–Thursday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.–noon | website
  • Other locations
    • Hurricane: 25 N. 2000 West, Suite 8 | Telephone: 435-635-0174 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. | Read more
    • Cedar City: 1303 N. Main St. | Telephone: 435-586-2229 | Hours: Monday–Thursday 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.–noon
    • Richfield: 70 E. 1000 North, Suite 2C | Telephone: 435-586-2229 | Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
    • Logan: 550 E. 1400 North, Suites X & Y | Telephone: 435-787-8146 | Hours: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • West St. George – Sunset Clinic: 2107 W. Sunset Blvd., Suite 102 | Telephone: 435-619-8630 | Hours: Monday-Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
    • Mt. Pleasant: 1100 S. Medical Drive | Telephone: 435-986-7156 | Hours: Thursday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    • Provo: 320 W. River Park Drive | Telephone: 385-203-0246 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon

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