Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Doctor Doesn't Think My Fracture Needs To Be Fixed

I am often asked by patients "My doctor told me I had a fracture, but that it will probably get better." Sometimes the doctor will tell them that "there is nothing we can do for it." While it's true that some fractures will get better with conservative therapy, many do not. In my opinion, it is important to take into account the amount of pain and suffering the patient has before decided if and when to fix the fracture.

As far as there being "nothing we can do about it", that's hogwash--as my patients know. In fact, if you have pain from a vertebral compression fracture, we can take that pain away in nearly 100% of the cases. There are two reasons doctors would say there is nothing can be done:
1. They don't know about the procedure.
2. They don't have experience with the procedure.

First of all, there is a huge amount of new information bombarding everyone, including doctors, everyday. Although vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty have been around for several years, most doctors haven't had direct experience with the procedure.

There are other doctors who know about vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty for compression fractures, but who have limited experience with it. They trained in an era when there literally was nothing that could be done for vertebral compression fractures (VCF). They have practiced for years when there was no effective therapy. Many are experienced spine surgeons who see how poorly these patients do at surgery, but haven’t had experience with vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Why is this? Until recently, the only treatment for vertebral compression fracture (VCF) was bed rest and oral pain medications, and those don't work for all patients. But as we will see in the next post, even these conservative therapies can be dangerous for the patient.

Thus, there are effective treatments for VCF, but most doctors haven't yet seen how effective the treatment is first hand. If you or a loved one are suffering from the pain of a VCF, give us a call. We would love help or refer you to a doctor in your area who can.

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