NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Back pain affects so many people that it’s the top cause of disability in the workplace – but it’s not easy to treat.
Now, patients suffering from one type of back pain have an incredible new option for relief.
Lumbar spinals stenosis is one of the most common form of chronic back pain, affecting more than one million Americans.
Until now, it was generally treated just with pain medications or a major surgical procedure. Now, a new, minimally invasive approach is changing that – and getting patients back on their feet faster.
For two years, Gracie Patterson’s back pain has been debilitating.
“Sometimes, in the morning, I can’t even get out of bed,” she said.
Even basic activities, like walking up stairs, weren’t possible for Patterson, but traditional back surgery was not an option.
“Six to eight months of recovery, I can’t do that,” she said. “I have a special needs child.”
Like millions of Americans, Gracie’s spinal nerves have gotten squeezed, causing the pain. To relieve the pressure, surgeons traditionally carve out some bone – but that weakens the spine.
A new procedure changes that, as a series of needles and live X-rays help map the target area and the nerve area. Then, through a tiny incision, a metal tub is aligned. Instruments begin shaving a little bone, but mostly enlarged ligament.
“We’ll do it in bites and free up that ligament,” spine surgeon Dr. Pawan Grover said.
Patterson is on the mend after undergoing the procedure, and she’s hopeful.
“It’s just a second chance,” she said.
The procedure has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and some insurance covers it. It’s also generally done in under an hour, and patients can go home the same day with just a Band-Aid on their back.