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Is There a Procedure to Lift My Spine and Restore My Height?

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Published on June 28, 2016

Can spine compression fractures be fixed and height loss reversed in patients with myeloma? Dr. Jatin Shah, a myeloma expert at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, responds with a discussion of multi-disciplinary examples of interventions for pain and goals of therapy.

This Ask the Expert series is sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network, which received funding from Celgene, Novartis and Takeda.

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Transcript | Is There a Procedure to Lift My Spine and Restore My Height?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Dr. Shah, here is a question we got in from Eddie. Eddie writes, “My main problem is the discomfort associated with my spinal compression. Is there a procedure to lift my spine and restore my height? 

Dr. Shah:               

I think this impacts many, many patients, as many patients will also have skeletal-related events or compression fractures. These compression fractures can be very painful and really cause significant morbidity for patients, where it affects their quality of life. They need to take pain medicines. So I think this is a very important and relevant question. There are things that can be done to help alleviate that, and I think it’s important in this context to really have a multidisciplinary team approach.

So outside of your myeloma physician, it’s important to make sure there’s a good pain doctor that you can see, as well as a potential orthopedic surgeon, as well, depending on where you’re at in the community. There are things that we can do just from pills that we can do to help control the pain, or anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxants that can help with that. We also recommend physical therapy, and this is critically important because when you have that compression fracture, you have a change in the architecture of your bones.

And so you really want to make sure you have good muscles around the joints, around the spine to support and stabilize the spine. And that’s I think underestimated and underutilized. So I would make sure you have good physical therapy. I've often used water physical therapy as well, and that can be very helpful for patients to help strengthen the muscles around the spine and strengthen the spine. Outside of that, there are other interventions that we can do, as well. And so we can do steroid injections, we can do epidural injections, facet joint injections; there [are] lots of different things that ourpain doctors can do.

In addition to a kyphoplasty, as well, where they may inject some cement in there, as well. So there [are] a number of different techniques we can do to help both with the pain control, as well as stabilize the spine. Unfortunately, though, we do want to be clear that when we do this, we’re not necessarily regaining some of the height that you may have lost. And so unfortunately, many of our patients will lose height with time. 

And so doing a kyphoplasty where they inject cement in there may stabilize that and take some pressure off the nerves but will not necessarily correct the loss of the height. And so I don't think that’s the goal of therapy; it’s more to help with the pain and improve the quality of life that we do a procedure like that.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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