Health Check: Doctors swap mothers to treat similar spinal fractures
In October, Slava Schwartzman fell out of bed in the middle of the night. She woke up in excruciating pain.
"I called my son and he came the next day," she said.
Slava's son, Boris Shwartzman, is a doctor.
"I was suspicious right away when I went to see her. She was very limited in her mobility and immediately suspected fracture," said Dr. Boris Shwartzman.
An MRI confirmed Boris's suspicion. But he wasn't going to operate on his own mother.
"So I asked my partner to take care of her," Boris said.
Boris's medical partner is pain management specialist Do Chan.
A few months later, Chan's mom, Cindy, fell during a workout at the gym.
"I lost balance. I was just sitting boom," Cindy Chan said.
Like Slava Schwartzman, Cindy had suffered a spinal compression fracture. So Boris returned the favor.
"He said, 'Oh my God, I can't believe it. A few months ago my mom got the same problem as you and your son gave my mom surgery. Now it's my turn,'" Cindy Chan said.
The procedure both women went through was something known as balloon kyphoplasty.
"So what we do with the kyphoplasty procedure is we enter the vertebra through the back under X-ray guidance. Once we get in to the vertebral body, we basically inflate a balloon," Do Chan said. "And then we inflate the balloon. Once the balloon's inflated, we take down the balloon and then we inject it with cement to stabilize the fracture."
Slava Schwartzman said it took a few weeks, but the pain is gone.
Cindy said she saw more immediate results and is back at the gym.
"I feel very good, thank God," she said.
Spinal compression fractures are very common, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, especially those with osteoporosis.
And balloon kyphoplasty is one of the newer ways to treat it.
Shwartzman and Chan have a pain clinic out of Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro and one in Warwick.