Vertebroplasty: What to Expect at Home
After vertebroplasty to relieve pain from compression fractures, you may feel sore where the needle went into your back. The soreness should go away in a few days.
You likely will go home the same day. You may take some pain medicine for a couple of days.
Most people are able to return to their daily activities within a few weeks after the procedure.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Take it easy for the first 24 hours. Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Slowly do more activity over the next few weeks as you have less pain.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. They will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- You may not need as much pain medicine as before because you will likely have less pain within the first 24 hours after your procedure.
- Take pain medicines exactly as directed. If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless your doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol, or ibuprofen (Advil). Too much of these medicines can be harmful.
- You will have a dressing over the cut (incision). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
- If you are sore where the needle was inserted, put ice or a cold pack on your back for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- The area may be sore for up to 2 weeks after the procedure.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe trouble breathing.
- You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
- You are unable to move a leg at all.
Call your doctor or Health Link at 811 or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse symptoms in your legs, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
- Numbness or tingling.
- You lose bladder or bowel control.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
- A fever.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or Health Link at 811 if:
- You are not getting better as expected.
Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services