Normally we don’t experience pain from osteoporosis until we sustain a fracture. Due to this lack of pain, some fractures may go unnoticed. This is not the case with all compression fractures and some can cause significant pain. If this happens to you, don’t wait to have it check since both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty spinal procedures can only be completed before the fracture starts to heal, which is generally within the first three months post fracture. Vertebroplasty can be accomplished on slightly older fractures, but kyphoplasty needs to be considered within the first three months and before the callous forms on the broken bone. For pain relievers that can be used during the healing phase see the list below.
Non-Surgical Pain Relievers
- Lidoderm patches: These are patches you apply to the painful area that contains lidocaine to numb the area. These patches can only be worn for 12 hours, and there’s a limit to the number of patches you may apply at once. Your physician must prescribe these since it is a prescription medicine.
- Lidocaine cream: This cream is mixed at a compounding pharmacy and usually contains, but is not limited to lidocaine, anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. Some insurance don’t cover compounded creams, so check to see if your insurance will pay for this. If not, the cost is not too expensive since the 60 mL tube last more than a month and is relatively cost effective.
- Polar Ice™ therapy: This is a bit more expensive than the prescriptions, but very effective and can be found online where you can purchase it. Some insurance cover this and some don’t. The machine is filled with ice/water and a tube sends cold water to a pack that is placed around the core of your body and spine. The cold water helps to reduce muscle swelling and pain since it will numb the area for some time.
- Aqua therapy: This is gentle exercise done in a pool. If you’ve had spinal surgery you’ll most likely be asked to include this in your post-surgical rehab. This is not a weight bearing exercise so it won’t increase your BMD, but it will help sore joints, muscles and allow improved range of motion. This is also a good cardio work out so it will help induce sleep, during a period where you may find it difficult to achieve the necessary eight hours you need to heal properly.
- TENS unit: A TENS unit applies stimulation to the painful area and can be set with vary modes or rhythmic pulses. The idea of this is to break the pain signal that is sent to your brain limiting the intensity of the pain. This also feels good on the painful area since it feels similar to muscle stimulation that you might receive at physical therapy.
If you have spinal pain, be sure to have it checked by your doctor to see if it is a fracture. Some of us ignore spinal pain if we have pre-existing spinal pain or arthritis, but the pain is our bodies’ way of telling us something is wrong, so act now if this is something you are experiencing.
Try some of these non-narcotic pain relievers and see how you feel. Chances are one or more will help tremendously during the post-fracture phase. Your doctor will need to order these things, if you chose to try one or more of these therapies.
Good luck and let us know if you are dealing with a spinal fracture and what you are using to combat the pain.