Severe low back pain can dramatically affect a person’s quality of life, but a new minimally invasive procedure may be able to 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 so far most patients would have required major back surgery if they qualified for surgery.
Some patients are too old or too sick and need strong pain relievers to relieve their pain.
In this new procedure, doctors make a small incision on the side of the lower back to place a device that will stabilize the spine.
“For years we really needed something to help our patients who have lumbar spine instability and now we have this very simple outpatient procedure that can be done in minutes and that patients can recover extremely quickly,” Stephens said.
Janice Meloon of Fort Worth underwent the procedure after years of using over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers for her back pain.
“Any housework or exercise made my back a lot. Especially at night it hurt a lot. Sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed,” Meloon said.
She said that after a short recovery, she was able to resume an activity that she once loved.
Stephens said the procedure is covered by most health insurance plans.
Signs of spinal stenosis in the lower back include back pain, weakness in one foot or leg, pain or cramps in one or both legs when standing for long periods of time or when walking, which usually subsides when leaning forward or sitting down.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis – the progressive wear and tear of 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.
This is why most people who develop symptoms of spinal stenosis are 50 years of age or older.
Women have a higher risk of developing spinal stenosis than men.