Morehead City nurse regains mobility after surgery

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WITN) - Osteoporosis causes nearly nine million fractures a year. That’s one every 3 seconds, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Doctors say there’s currently only one procedure to help patients who suffer from these fractures and one Eastern Carolina nurse is one of them.

Normally, it’s Dawn Riddle’s job to care for patients, but what happened when this Morehead City nurse became the patient? Riddle suffered a spinal fracture due to osteoporosis which made simple daily tasks, not so simple.

“It made life a lot more difficult, and being by myself, there was nobody to help me do anything,” Riddle told us.

But balloons and cement, of all things, came to the rescue this past summer in a surgery called Kyphoplasty, which doctors say is the only procedure to help patients like Riddle.

“We come in through the side of the bone, into the bone with a needle, and with that needle we pass a balloon to straighten up the bone, and then we take the balloon out through that same hole, and we fill that area with what we call bone cement, which is like epoxy,” Dr. Ash Guirgues told us. “It’s the same stuff we use for knee replacements and hip replacements. And the idea is that it hardens within 18 to 22 minutes, and once it’s hard, it’s like having an internal cast.”

Dr.Guirgues says the big advantage is a patient can then move around without hardly any pain.

“The day I woke up and I was pain-free,” said Riddle. “I just sat right up and was like *gasp* oh my gosh.”

Now, things that Riddle wondered if she would ever do again are back to being effortless.

“I brush (my hair) like this, and I couldn’t do that, especially the motion, the bending, moving my arms, bending over like that, I couldn’t do my ponytail like this,” said Riddle.

Doctors say nearly a quarter of osteoporosis fractures are deadly because they cause patients to become immobile, but Kyphoplasty has been able to get millions of Americans like Riddle back on their feet.