Does Spinal Stenosis Compromise Your Life?
By Dr. Derek Frieden, Southwest Spine and Pain Center
No pain, no gain. Thousands of athletes live by this motto. What if your pain is not the result of your workout but is something you live with every day? 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 FDA recently approved a new treatment option for moderate lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS): The Superion® Indirect Decompression System (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 physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain Center were chosen to be the first physicians in the state of Utah trained to perform the Superion implant procedure and have successfully placed the implant in more patients than any other practice in this region of the country. 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, which may result in pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the back and legs. It is usually more noticeable when you walk and decreases when you sit or bend forward. Lumbar spinal stenosis can produce a variety of symptoms, including:
- dull or aching pain spreading to your groin, buttocks, or legs.
- numbness or “pins and needles” in your legs, calves, or buttocks.
- 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 LSS. Conservative, non-surgical treatment options are the first approach and can begin with:
- epidural steroid injections to decrease swelling and pain.
- rest and reduction of activity level.
- physical therapy and exercise.
- prescription pain medications.
If these non-surgical treatment options offer no relief, you may require a more aggressive treatment, such as surgery. Historically, the surgical alternatives were:
- 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.
- decompression surgery with spinal fusion. In spinal fusion, a decompression surgery is performed to remove bone and tissue. A bone graft is then placed between the bones (usually the 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.
However, if you have moderate LSS with radiating leg pain and have been treated with non-surgical options for at least 6 months with no relief from your symptoms, there is another option before direct decompression or fusion surgery: The Superion IDS. The 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 with 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.This new treatment for LSS 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.
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% of the patients in the clinical trial expressed continuing satisfaction.
Have you been down the treatment road already? If the epidurals and other conservative treatments didn’t provide the relief for which you were hoping, 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.