Two Organizations Find Synergies to Combat One Big Medical Problem: Fractures of the Spine or Vertebral Compression Fractures
Spine fractures among osteoporosis patients are often under-diagnosed and traditionally treatment options have been limited. This can cause poor outcomes, opioid reliance, and added costs to the healthcare system.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and Medtronic are working together to educate the general public, osteoporosis patients, and the medical community on osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures (VCF), and treatment options of vertebral compression fractures in an effort to increase positive outcomes for vertebral compression fracture patients and the healthcare system overall.
One of the treatment options for vertebral compression fractures is Medtronic’s balloon kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces and stabilizes vertebral compression fractures related to osteoporosis, cancer or benign lesions. Over the years, studies comparing balloon kyphoplasty to non-surgical management have shown balloon kyphoplasty produced better pain relief and quality of life for patients with acute VCF compared to non-surgical management.
“We’ve built a really strong partnership with NOF and the National Bone Health Alliance, which has helped extend our message related to osteoporosis for patients that are being diagnosed and not treated through the continuum of care,” said Jeff Cambra, vice president and general manager of Medtronic’s interventional pain therapies – restorative therapies group. “We are trying to build awareness into what VCF is and what options are available to treat that fracture.”
The partnership aims to educate clinicians as well as patients about osteoporosis, VCF and available treatment options. One of the biggest opportunities for clinician education is among emergency room staff that see around half a million patients with either hip or vertebral fractures per year.
“We believe that creating a pilot program to provide education to family and ER physicians, starting in eight to 10 cities, could help us understand how to make change,” said Elizabeth Thompson, CEO of NOF. “We want to get the message out as people present to the ER with pain or fractures to get a complete osteoporosis workup and referral, and if they receive opioids we want to make sure that is really managed. If someone is going back for a refill after two weeks, they should likely have a bone density scan (DEXA) to rule out a vertebral fracture or osteoporosis as the underlying cause.”
Many times, the ER staff refers these patients to orthopedists instead of giving them an osteoporosis work-up and DEXA scan; other times, they prescribe opioids, opening the door for addiction.
“We hope to provide research showing fractures due to osteoporosis isn’t something that can be managed by opioids,” said Claire Gill, chief marketing officer of NOF. “It becomes chronic for patients quickly, and there needs to be further diagnosis of what that pain is for the elder population.”
Through their evidence-based partnership, NOF and Medtronic are developing educational materials, webinars and presentations for the medical professional and patient audience.