Common cause of back pain, under-diagnosed
Connie Blissett lived with back pain for years, and tried everything. It got so bad, Connie couldn't even sleep in her own bed, so she spent her nights in this recliner.
"I was to the point where I honestly wished that I would just die. It hurt every single solitary minute of every day."
Finally, an MRI revealed the surprising cause of Connie's pain, "My back was just a mess. They said there were actually fractures because of the osteoporosis. "
Yes, Connie has osteoporosis- not a slipped disc or any of the things we usually associate with back pain, "Nobody said anything about osteoporosis."
Dr. Avery Jackson, of the Michigan Neurosurgical Institute, says the number of people with stories like Connie's- undiagnosed cases of osteoporosis with fractures- is staggering.
"Eighty-percent of the time, diagnosis is completely missed. One on two women over 50 has osteoporosis and will go on to develop a fracture. And one on four men over the age of 65. "
Knowing the true cause of Connie's pain meant there would finally be relief. She had a procedure, called baloon kyphoplasty, to repiair some of the damage to Connie's vertebrae.
And, Dr. Jackson says, "Actually reduce the fracture and increase of the height of that squashed vertebra, as well as stops the pain."
Kyphoplasty works similarly to angioplasty, used to repair damaged arteries); only this procedure focuses on bone.
"A balloon is inserted through a needle and then it's expanded. And then it's contracted and removed. And then you put in cement," Jackson says.
It is a relatively simple procedure that gave Connie her life back, "I walked out of there, came home, thought, 'I'll try the bed tonight,' and it worked. And I actually was able to sleep in a real bed- and really sleep. It was wonderful."
The procedure is not a cure for osteoporosis. Connie will have to continue to monitor the disease and take steps to slow future bone loss.