OBJECTIVE: Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is mainly performed for refractory pain due to osteoporotic compression fractures. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the results of balloon kyphoplasty performed at different times after an injury. METHODS: In this retrospective study, the records of 99 patients who underwent one level of balloon kyphoplasty between January 2005 and December 2007 were reviewed. The patients were divided into three groups : 21 patients treated within 3 weeks of an injury (the acute group), 49 treated within 3 weeks to 2 months of an injury (the subacute group), and 29 patients treated at more than 2 months after an injury (the chronic group). Clinical outcomes were assessed using a visual analogue scale (VAS). In addition, modified MacNab's grading criteria was used to assess the subjective patient outcome. The radiology findings, including vertebral height restoration and procedure related complications, were analyzed based on the different time intervals after the injury. RESULTS: Patients in all three groups achieved marked pain relief in terms of the VAS within 7 days of the procedure. Good or excellent results were achieved by most patients in all three groups. However, the height restoration, the main advantage to performing a balloon kyphoplasty, was not achieved in the chronic group. Moreover, evidence of complications including cement leakage was observed significantly less frequently in the subacute group compared to the other two groups. CONCLUSION: Although balloon kyphoplasty is an effective treatment for osteoporotic compression fractures, with regard to pain relief, the subacute stage appears to be optimal for treating patients with a balloon kyphoplasty in terms of achieving the best outcomes with minimal complications.