What Are MIIPs? / Back Pain

"I have severe back pain. My doctor says itʼs from a broken bone in my spine..."

The spine is a very important part of the back. It is made up of many bones stacked on top of one another. Together, these bones hold your back upright. It can be very painful when one of them breaks.

But I wasnʼt in an accident, it just happened.

If you got a broken backbone from something like working in the garden or moving a flower pot, then you may have a problem with soft bones. These kinds of broken bones are surprising because they are not caused by normal injury.

What are soft bones?

When you are young and healthy, the bones in your spine are very hard. Sometimes old age or illness wear away the parts of the bone that keep them strong. The bones get soft and the job of holding up the body becomes too much for them. They may collapse or get squashed during normal activity. It is called a spinal compression fracture. Click here to learn more about weak bones, also called osteoporosis.

Will I need surgery?

Most of these broken bones heal on their own. Sometimes they need a little help. Fortunately, there are non-surgical procedures (MIIPs) to do this:

Vertebroplasty is a simple procedure guided by x-rays. Your doctor places a needle into the broken bone of the back and then injects a type of glue. It fills the cracks and fixes them in place. The needle is removed when itʼs all done.

Kyphoplasty is similar, but it involves one more step. After your doctor places a needle into the broken bone, a small balloon goes through the needle. The balloon is inflated and makes a space inside the bone. Your doctor removes the balloon and then injects the glue into the space left behind by the balloon. One of the reasons some doctors do this is to try and expand the bone and make it taller, so that it is more like it was before was broken.

Both work very well to make you feel better. Usually the pain goes away very quickly. But sometimes broken bones cause problems in parts of the body nearby. This can make it harder to fix. That is why it is important to go to a well-trained doctor who can help decide what is right for you and help you with the other problems if you have them.

What is the procedure like?

The procedure is very quick. It usually takes 15 - 60 minutes, not including preparation and recovery. It is performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center, or physician's office. You will most likely be sedated during the procedure to make you comfortable. Your doctor will plan for you to go home the same day unless you have other conditions that require you to be in a hospital.

The pain you were having before the procedure will probably go away immediately, but it can sometimes take several days to get better. Soreness of the muscles as a result of the procedure is common, but will start to get better after 2 to 3 days.

Scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor are important. Make sure that you don't miss them. 

For more information about low back pain:

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