Journal scan

Sham operation casts doubt on back treatment

Surgery to repair spinal fractures was no more effective than a sham procedure in older patients with osteoporosis, with both sets of patients saying their pain was reduced

Surgery to repair spinal fractures, or vertebroplasty, is no more effective for pain relief than a placebo procedure in older patients with osteoporosis, a trial shows.

Vertebroplasty involves injecting a special cement into fractures in the spine, which are common in osteoporosis, to stabilise the break and relieve pain.

There has been conflicting evidence over the effectiveness of the procedure to treat the fractures, which can lead to deformity, breathing problems and loss of height.

3 million

More than three million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis, a condition that causes around 500,000 broken bones every year.

Source: National Osteoporosis Society

Researchers in the Netherlands and the US looked at pain relief in patients undergoing vertebroplasty and

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