Got pain? Don't just ease it, fill it! - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Got pain? Don't just ease it, fill it!

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(08/06/12) - You've probably heard of "fillers" for wrinkles. Well, now there are pain fillers that bring relief almost instantly! It is all part of a new treatment for back pain.

Mary Ann Weyer was busy with a full life - running, fishing, raising horses, and she being a foster mother to six kids. But one day that all changed.

"It happened so fast. Being. Being. Being. One day I was healthy, the next I was in the hospital, the next day I had broken bones," Mary Ann remembers.

Within six months, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma. It causes plasma cells in the blood to grow rapidly and destroy bones.

Radiation sent Mary Ann's cancer into remission, but she was left with six spinal fractures. "I had no idea what people went through when they had pain, until it happened to me. For me, the cancer wasn't scary. It was the idea of not being able to take care of myself and being incapacitated."

Interventional neuroradiologist, Dr. Marcel Maya, at Cedars Sinai, uses balloon kyphoplasty to fix the problem. "This is an internal cast, where we put cement inside the fractured spine."

It is non-surgical, so there are no incisions. Instead, four needles are inserted into the back, creating a small pathway to the fractures. Orthopedic balloons are then inserted and inflated, then the cement fills the opened area.

"You see the cement filling the spine and restoring the normal height and strength," Dr. Maya says.

Two hours after the procedure, Mary Ann was on her way home, scar free, pain free and ready to live again. "To not have pain, is to have life."

Other than this treatment, there is little help for people with spinal fractures. These patients are basically told to go home and rest - for up to three months. But, with balloon kyphoplasty, recovery is usually less than 10 days.

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