Does spinal stenosis compromise your life? Take yours back with a new treatment option

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FEATURE — Back and leg pain affects millions of Americans every year causing loss of mobility, lost work and frustration. The thought of invasive back surgery, with possible problems such as surgical scars, lengthy recovery time and time off from work, is a difficult prospect. However, there is now a treatment option that provides patients with new alternatives for a pain-free life.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new treatment option for moderate lumbar spinal stenosis:  The Superion Indirect Decompression System, or IDS, is a safe and effective treatment for leg pain caused by moderate lumbar stenosis. This minimally-invasive treatment fills the gap between conservative care and invasive surgery. The board certified physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain are the first and currently only physicians to be trained in this therapy in Utah.

Lumbar spinal stenosis can be the result of aging and “wear and tear” on the spine from everyday activities. It is a narrowing of the spinal canal that may result in pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the back and legs and is usually more noticeable when you walk and decreases when you sit or bend forward. Lumbar spinal stenosis can produce a variety of symptoms:

  • A dull or aching pain spreading to your groin, buttocks or legs.
  • A numbness or “pins and needles” in your legs, calves, or buttocks.
  • A decreased endurance for physical activities.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Sciatic pain.

If you suspect you may have stenosis, see your doctor. It is important to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms. Radiology tests, like MRIs or X-rays, may be needed to diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis.

Conservative, nonsurgical treatments options are the first approach and can begin with these:

  • Epidural steroid injections to decrease swelling and pain.
  • Rest and reduce activity level.
  • Physical therapy and exercise.
  • Prescription pain medications.

If these nonsurgical treatment options offer no relief, you may require a more aggressive treatment, such as surgery. Historically, there have been two surgical alternatives:

  1. Direct decompression surgery to remove bone and other tissue around the nerves causing pain. This surgery helps relieve pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.
  2. Decompression surgery with spinal fusion. In spinal fusion, a decompression surgery is performed to remove bone and tissue. Then a bone graft is placed between the bones (usually vertebrae) in the area of the decompression surgery. The bone graft helps new bone to grow between the two bones to “fuse” them. This should stop motion in that portion of the spine. Screws and rods may be used to hold the bones in place.

Now, however, if you have moderate lumbar spinal stenosis with radiating leg pain and have been treated with nonsurgical options for at least six months with no relief from your symptoms, there is another option before direct decompression or fusion surgery: The Superion IDS.

Superion implant is a small titanium device available in different sizes to best match your spinal anatomy. It is inserted through a small incision in the lower back. The Superion implant is delivered with no destruction of bone or tissue and minimal bleeding. The simple procedure can be completed in under one hour and can be done in either the operating room at the hospital or at an outpatient surgical center.

The Superion implant is designed to keep your spine positioned so that when you stand upright the nerves in your back will not be pinched. You should not need to bend forward to relieve your pain with the Superion implant in place.

The Superion IDS has gone through a rigorous clinical trial and has been implanted in more than 2,000 patients worldwide. The clinical trial results showed leg pain improvement equal to more traditional—and invasive—treatment options. At four years after surgery, almost 90 percent of the patients in the clinical trial expressed continuing satisfaction.

This new treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis offers a minimally invasive approach to treating moderate lumbar stenosis that means hope for relief of ongoing pain without the long recovery of traditional decompression surgery. If the epidurals and other conservative treatments didn’t provide the relief you were hoping for, talk to your doctor about the Superion Indirect Decompression System.

A life with less pain and more movement could be in your future.

Where can I find out more information?

If you have lumbar spinal stenosis and would like to see if you are a candidate for this procedure, please contact Southwest Spine and Pain center to schedule a consultation with one of our board certified spine and pain specialists. Southwest Spine and Pain has the only physicians trained in this procedure in Utah.

For additional information on the Superion Indirect Decompression System, call the Vertiflex information hotline at 866-268-6486 or visit the webpage.

Resources

Written by DEREK FRIEDAN, M.D., Southwest Spine and Pain.

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