Medical Procedure Helps Westfield Woman Overcome Spinal Fractures

WESTFIELD – Octavia, a 67-year-old Westfield native, regained control of her life after being unable to stand up for more than a few seconds thanks to a medical procedure called balloon kyphoplasty.

Octavia woke up one morning with excruciating back pain, which she later learned was caused by two collapsed vertebrae. For more than five months, she was forced to sleep sitting up in an office chair because the pain of being in any other position was too severe.

“It was worse than going through labor,” Octavia said.

Thanks to internet research, Octavia discovered balloon kyphoplasty and asked her doctors if it could help her.

Dr. Suken Shah of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, who performed Octavia’s procedure, described balloon kyphoplasty: a small incision is made in the patient’s back to insert a balloon to temporarily reinstate the collapsed vertebrae. A second small incision allows the doctor to insert bone cement to permanently repair the fracture.

“It’s made such a big difference that I couldn’t even tell you,” Octavia said. The day after the procedure, she went out grocery shopping.

According to Shah, Octavia’s story is typical: in general, there is no recovery period for balloon kyphoplasty patients, and the procedure eliminates the fracture pain immediately.

Traditional treatment for compression fractures involves a focus of pain management through the use of drugs and braces to immobilize the fracture which can often be difficult for patients to put on, Shah said. Surgery to install a rod and screws to stabilize the spine is another option, but that is a more invasive procedure than balloon kyphoplasty and involves a longer recovery time.

Now that she’s back up on her feet, Octavia enjoys spreading the hope that the procedure offered her. She pointed out that balloon kyphoplasty can be used to help some people who suffer poor posture – what she termed “bent over back” – if it is caused by collapsed vertebrae. Those patients may be able to experience height restoration and improve their breathing if they undergo the procedure.

For more information about balloon kyphoplasty, call 1-888-953-1234 or visit


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