NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is good news about back surgery for a change.

If you need surgery for your back pain, there are now minimally invasive techniques that can get you back on your feet in no time.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, most back pain is not a surgical problem.

However, if you have a severely herniated sick, or unstable vertebrae, or a number of other back problems you should know that modern spine surgery is much safer, less painful, and more effective than ever.

“I’ve been dealing with this problem for ten years and it’s been a throbbing pain in my lower back that just hasn’t gone away,” former CBS2 reporter Matt Kozar said.

It’s the kind of back pain that afflicts millions of people, and now Kozar has decided it’s time to do something about it.

“He has a collapsed disc, bone on bone at the bottom of the spine. There should be a space in between the two bones there,” Dr. Sheeraz Qureshi, Mount Sinai Hospital said.

That’s where Matt’s pain is coming from.

The former CBS2 reporter, turned public affairs officer for Mt. Sinai put off surgery because the traditional approach for his problem is pretty invasive.

“Cutting the back muscles, and then also removing a lot of the normal stabilizing structures of the spine called the lamina and the spinous processes, and then that in and of itself can lead to a significant amount of collateral damage, and post operative pain,” Dr. Qureshi said.

Spine surgeon Dr. Qureshi is one of relatively few surgeons doing a minimally invasive back fusion called T-LIF.

Through a small incision he removes what’s left of the disk and inserts a spacer to restore the space between his vertebrae. It’s filled with bone to speed up the fusion and stabilized with a small rob and bolts, all of which preserves most of the normal anatomy.

“We’re reducing pain, we’re reducing the amount of pain medication that they need, and all of those things ultimately result in a much faster return to normal life,”Dr. Qureshi said.

Just three weeks after fusion, Kozar is feeling better.

“I’m doing really well. I came back to work about a week and a half after surgery. I’m able to walk around. I’d say I’m at 70 percent right now,” he said.

Matt’s ultimate goal is to run the NYC Marathon this fall, and Dr. Qureshi thinks he’ll be able to do it.

While the fusion can work up and down the spine, the key to successful surgery is the right operation for the right patient.

No technique is right for every problem.


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