With age, bones can gradually weaken and become brittle — called osteoporosis. If not treated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These breaks can occur in the hip and wrist. They can also occur in the spine — when the bones in the spinal column weaken and collapse (called a compression fracture). Compression fractures can be extremely painful, and lead to deformity and loss of height.
Until recently, doctors were limited in treatments for these osteoporosis-related spine fractures. Today, physicians have much more to offer. Two procedures — vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty — can be used to both prevent and treat compression fractures. These procedures are very successful in stabilizing bone, relieving back pain, restoring height, and reducing deformity.