UNDATED (WJRT) -
(06/18/14) - As the baby boomer generation gets older, more than 40 million Americans are at risk for osteoporosis and vertebrae compression fractures.
A new procedure is treating compression fractures with polymer implants, and many patients are saying goodbye to their pain.
Today, walking his dog is one of John Wallace's morning pleasures. But not long ago, this was just wishful thinking. Wallace suffered from a compression fracture caused by weakened bones.
"My spine had settled down on the nerve mass there and it was hurting all over my legs," he said.
Doctor Douglas Beall says pain from a compression fracture is common in the elderly.
"A compression fracture is like it would sound - it's like stepping on the top of a coke can and scrunch it down," he said.
The procedure used on Wallace was the first new method of treating these fractures in the last decade. The incision is a small poke-hole.
"It goes in through a needle and then the device goes in a little loop of wire in and over that wire goes artificial bone to provide a cast and in that we inject medical cement. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to perform and the patients get immediate pain relief," Beall said.
For patients like Wallace, pain-free means more time with man's best friend.
"I would certainly be able to do anything that any other man that's approaching 88 would, would dare to," he said.
The surgery costs a fraction of the price of traditional surgery and gives patients a better chance at avoiding deadly symptoms caused by inactivity - like pneumonia.