There are about 500,000 people in the USA who suffer from some kind of spinal injury every year.
Doctors can help spinal injuries that involve compression fractures and other breaks through a form of treatment called kyphoplasty. This procedure involves a hollow needle, a balloon, and a cement mixture. It sounds frightening but it’s really a wonder of modern medicine.
Keep reading to learn more about a balloon kyphoplasty procedure and what to expect after you get one.
What Is a Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure?
When one of your vertebrae breaks or fractures, the pieces of bone can start rubbing against each other when you move. This can be painful and make it hard to move around.
Kyphoplasty can treat these types of fractures, including other things like compression fractures, spine tumors, or old injuries that aren’t healing. This procedure uses a cement/bone strengthening material to treat these kinds of afflictions. The cement takes away the pain by stabilizing the damaged spine.
The balloon makes room for the mixture in the spine. The doctor inserts the balloon, injects the cement mixture, and removes the balloon again.
Let’s take a closer look at the process of kyphoplasty:
- Using an X-ray, the surgeon inserts a hollow needle through your muscles and into the damaged bone.
- They place a deflated balloon into the needle and inflate it to make space in the bone for the cement mixture.
- The surgeon places the mixture into the open space and removes the balloon and needle.
- They then bandage the incision point.
This is a minimally invasive procedure, but it does take some preparation. Here’s what you’ll need to do before your kyphoplasty.
How to Prepare for Your Procedure
You should stop taking non-steroid anti-inflammatories a week before your surgery. This includes common painkillers like Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, Advil, Aleve, etc. If you aren’t sure about a type of medication, ask your doctor if it’s okay before you take it.
Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before your surgery. If your doctor has approved a type of medication, you can take this with a small sip of water. Other than that, you shouldn’t have any food or beverages of any kind.
Make sure you arrive at your appointment at least an hour early. This will make sure you get there on time if you’re running late or hit any traffic. The surgeon may have to cancel your appointment if you show up late.
What to Expect After a Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure
The expected recovery time for your balloon can change depending on your circumstances and your habits.
For example, using tobacco of any kind has a serious, negative effect on your recovery. Anyone who uses tobacco must stop using from two weeks before the procedure to two weeks after the procedure.
Here’s a list of things you can expect after your balloon kyphoplasty procedure.
How Long Will I Stay in the Hospital?
Again, the procedure can be different for each person. While one kyphoplasty patient may be able to return home the same day as their procedure, others might have to stay several days in the hospital before the surgeon discharges them.
In most cases, you shouldn’t be there any longer than two days.
Do I Need Physical Therapy?
Most surgeons refer you to a physical therapist at your first post-surgical visit. While in therapy, you should avoid bending or twisting your back.
If the exercises in physical therapy make you feel pain, you should stop doing them right away. Wait for your next visit with your neurosurgical provider to talk about the pain and what to do about it.
How Long Should My Incision Site Hurt?
Any pain you experience should be mild and don’t expect to feel all of it at your incision site. Most of the pain you feel will be in your back, ribs, and loins.
If you notice excessive swelling or drainage from the incision, you should get medical attention right away. You should also visit a doctor as soon as possible if you have a fever, chills, nausea, or trouble breathing.
How Long Should I Wear a Bandage?
You must wear your bandage for at least the first day after surgery. After that, you can take it off.
However, you can’t remove the staples or sutures on your own. Those must stay in until your post-operative visit. Your doctor will remove these for you. This can be anywhere between one or two weeks after your procedure.
When Can I Bathe Again?
On the third day after your surgery, you can shower again. But the showers should be quick. Don’t scrub or make any direct contact with your incision.
Stay out of bathtubs, pools, hot tubs, oceans, or other water until two weeks have passed. This water isn’t clean or sterile, so it could get into your incision and cause an infection.
When Can I Return to My Normal Activities?
You’ll need to give yourself several weeks of recovery time before you return to work or your usual activities. Pushing yourself too hard too fast can make your injury worse and lengthen the recovery time.
For example, you shouldn’t lift more than 5 or ten pounds for the first three weeks after your surgery. After the fourth week, you can increase this to 20 pounds. You shouldn’t lift anything heavier than this until three months have passed.
As long as you are off any pain medications, you can drive two weeks after your surgery. If you are experiencing any pain when driving, you might want to push this back.
Don’t sit on hard surfaces or for long periods of time until two to four weeks have passed. You should also stay away from activities that might lead to trips and falls, such as playing with children or partaking in sports.
But don’t confuse recovery for bedrest. You should start walking as soon as you can after the surgery (sometimes your surgeon will encourage you to walk an hour after your surgery). Walking prevents blood from clotting, strengthens your muscles, and improves your cardiovascular health.
There isn’t an exact time you should return to work. Since every job requires different levels of physical exertion, you should return to work once you feel able. Two weeks tend to be enough recovery time for most people.
What to Do After a Kyphoplasty
The effects of a kyphoplasty procedure are different for each person, so be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to recover. Pushing yourself is only going to make your injury worse and your recovery time longer. Stick to plenty of rest and plenty of walking.
Think you might need a kyphoplasty? Don’t wait to book an appointment with us online.