Severe back pain can seriously affect a person’s quality of life, but a new, minimally invasive procedure may help.
The procedure is called the “Minuteman” procedure and is designed to correct spinal stenosis, a common condition caused by narrowing of the spinal canal.
Chad Stephens, DO, of Noble Pain Management and Sports Medicine said until now, most patients would have needed major back surgery if they’d even qualified for surgery.
Some patients are too old or too sick and need to take strong pain medication to relieve their pain.
In this new procedure, doctors go through a small incision in the side of the lower back to place a device that stabilizes the spine.
“For years we really needed something to help our patients with lumbar spine instability, and now we have this very simple outpatient procedure that can be done in minutes so patients can recover extremely quickly,” said Stephens.
Fort Worth’s Janice Meloon had the procedure done after years of relying on over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers for her back pain.
“Any housework or exercise has hurt my back a lot. It hurt a lot, especially at night. Sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed,” said Meloon.
She said that after a brief recovery, she was able to return to activities that she once loved.
Stephens said most health insurance companies will cover the procedure.
Signs of spinal stenosis in the lower back include back pain, weakness in one foot or leg, pain or cramping in one or both legs when standing or walking for long periods of time, usually easing when leaning forward or sitting down.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis – the gradual wear and tear on the joints over time.
Spinal stenosis is common because osteoarthritis begins to cause changes in the spine in most people by the age of 50.
Because of this, most people who develop symptoms of spinal stenosis are 50 years of age or older.
Women are at a higher risk of developing spinal stenosis than men.