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Photo of back pain Are you tired of suffering from back pain? For many of us, we accept back pain like we accept the onset of gray hair and wrinkles – an unwanted eventuality for all of us, a consequence of getting older.  But it doesn’t have to be. At AppOrtho, in many cases we can say goodbye to back pain for good, thanks to a simple outpatient procedure known as a kyphoplasty.


Are you ready for relief?


Back pain is often caused by a break between your vertebrae known as a compression fracture. This fracture frequently occurs in senior adults as a result of wear and tear to the cartilage in the joint, in many cases brought on by osteoporosis. Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCFs) can occur suddenly and without warning, and simple tasks like bending over to pick something up can lead to a break. A silent disease, osteoporosis causes gradual bone loss over the years without symptoms and is the cause of more than 800,000 VCFs annually in women and men.

The good news is that compression fractures can and usually do heal on their own. At AppOrtho, all non-operative treatment options are considered before recommending surgery.  However, a standard treatment for VCFs involves pain medications and bedrest, which unfortunately often leads to opioid dependency.

As an alternative to surgery, a quick and minimally invasive surgical procedure known as kyphoplasty can be performed to stop the pain, repair the bone and restore functionality.  Furthermore, reports show that patients who elect to have kyphoplasty have lower mortality risk, lower readmission rates and three times the pain reduction of other treatment options.


How it works


Think of the spine as a flexible chain of interconnected bones that work in unison to help hold the body together. When a compression fracture occurs, the area between these bones or vertebrae thins causing painful friction between the bone fragments. To repair this type of fracture, your surgeon may recommend a kyphoplasty procedure; here is what you can expect.

  1. In the operating room, the patient will lie down on their stomach and be given general anesthesia, which puts them to sleep.
  2. A sterilized hollow needle is then guided by x-ray and placed between the injured vertebrae.
  3. Once the needle is in place, a balloon is inserted through the needle and then inflated to create needed space between the bone fragments.
  4. Bone cement is then injected through the needle to fill in and repair that space between the vertebrae.
  5. The needle is then removed and a bandage is applied. No stitches are required for this procedure. The entire process typically takes less than an hour to complete.

Patients usually notice a reduction in pain immediately after the procedure. In most cases, patients can resume their normal routine with an improved quality of life within two days.


We’ve got your back


With more than 25 years of experience performing spine surgeries, James Califf, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at AppOrtho, is the only orthopedist in the High Country who performs kyphoplasty procedures, along with other complex spine procedures, at Watauga Medical Center.

In addition to intra-operative procedures like kyphoplasty for osteoporosis and trauma, Dr. Califf provides extensive patient follow up care for all patients as needed at AppOrtho. These follow up appointments allow patients to ask lingering questions, get feedback on their progress and address any concerns they or their family members may have.

Although Dr. Califf specializes in the treatment of spinal disorders, he also performs shoulder, hip, hand, joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery.

“At AppOrtho, we are pleased to offer advanced spine surgery right here in the High Country,” said Dr. Califf. “Simply put, our goal is to help our patients feel better and to provide that care close to home.”

To learn more about spine surgery at AppOrtho, call (828) 386-2663 or request an appointment here. No referral is required.

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