LOS ANGELES, CA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Imagine constant pain so severe it changes your life. That’s what many people who have fractured vertebrae live with every day. From car wrecks to osteoporosis to cancer, the fractures can be caused by many things, but there wasn’t much out there to help people. Doctors now have a way to fill their patients’ pain relief needs.
Running, fishing, raising horses… nothing could stop Mary Ann Weyer, foster mom of six. "I didn’t have any worries about health," she told Ivanhoe. Then one day, everything changed.
"It happened so fast. Bing. Bing. Bing. One day I was healthy, the next I was in the hospital, the next day I had broken bones."
Within six months, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer where plasma cells in the blood grow rapidly and cause bone destruction. Radiation sent her cancer into remission, but she was left with six spinal fractures.
"I had no idea what people went through when they had pain, until it happened to me. For me the cancer wasn’t scary. It was the idea of not being able to take care of myself and being incapacitated," she said.
Interventional neuroradiologist Dr. Marcel Maya at Cedars Sinai uses balloon kyphoplasty to fix the problem. "This is an internal cast, where we put cement inside the fractured spine," Dr. Maya told Ivanhoe.
It’s non-surgical, so there are no incisions. Instead, four needles are inserted into Mary Ann’s back, creating a small pathway to the fractures. Orthopedic balloons are inserted and inflated. "You can see the balloon getting thicker," he said. Then, the cement fills the opened area. "You see the cement filling the spine and restoring the normal height and strength."
Two hours after the procedure, Mary Ann’s on her way home, scar free, pain free and ready to live again. "To not have pain, is to have life," Mary Ann said.
Besides this treatment there is little help for people with spinal fractures. They are basically told to go home and rest. Recovery can take one to three months. With balloon kyphoplasty, recovery is usually less than ten days. MORE
Click here for additional research on Fixing Spinal Fractures Without Surgery
Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Marcel Maya
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