Who would’ve thought watering a houseplant would result in a fractured spine- certainly not Dorothy Eastwood.
“All I did was reach up. I was going to take it down to water it. And I had felt something in my back, something grab the base of my spine,” says Eastwood.
The resulting pain was constant and unbearable.
“Whether it was laying down, sitting up, walking, it was just there all the time. And it drove me pretty much to tears. And believe me, I’m not one that lays down and cries very often,” says Eastwood.
In the past, the go-to treatments for a fractured back were pain meds or an open surgery. But now physicians can offer another procedure that goes between the two.
Dr. Paul Fuchs is Eastwood’s doctor.
“The previous treatments weren’t ideal and now that kyphoplasty has been developed it’s one way we can stabilize the fracture, which is what we want to do. And it’s more of an internal stabilization of a fracture,” says Dr. Paul Fuchs, orthopedic spine surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Here’s how it works: once the spot is identified on live x-ray, surgeons make an incision about the size of a fingernail and insert a hollow needle creating a pathway to the fracture. An orthopedic balloon is inside the needle. When it’s inflated it compresses the break.
“You can see the balloon now blown up and that’s again compacting the bone,” says Dr. Fuchs.
The balloon comes out, then a semi-liquid cement goes in through the same needle and fills the void.
“It takes 4-5 minutes for that cement to harden and once it hardens the fracture is essentially healed,” says Dr. Fuchs.
Kyphoplasty is performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation.
“The pain relief is significant. And the patients can traditionally go home that day,” says Dr. Fuchs.
With her fractured spine fixed, Eastwood is getting back to her daily duties.
“I was always an active person, I was always working until this happened. So I wasn’t really ready to just sit around,” says Eastwood.