For years, patients suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis have felt like they were stuck between a rock and a hard spot - live with the pain, or have spine surgery. Thankfully, the Vertiflex procedure introduces a new option.
In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss how the Vertiflex Superion implant procedure relieves the lower back and leg pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis.
What is lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)?
Inside the spine, there is a channel called the spinal canal. The spinal canal is surrounded by the vertebrae. This canal contains and protects the spinal cord.
Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. As we age, the joints of the spine slowly start to break down. This degeneration can cause bulging discs, thickening of spinal ligaments, enlarged joints, and bone spurs. These conditions reduce the amount of space around the spinal cord. When this spinal constriction finally starts pinching nerves, you’ll start feeling the shooting pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness associated with LSS.
Both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for LSS aim to release the pressure on the nerves of the lumbar spine. However, as the condition worsens, surgical intervention can be the only long-term option to stop the pain.
What is the Vertiflex Superion® implant?
The Vertiflex Superion® interspinous spacer is a FDA-approved system designed to relieve back pain by restoring the normal space between the vertebrae.
Because it is a minimally-invasive procedure, the Vertiflex procedure is a solution for back pain patients for whom medications or injections have failed. It is also a reasonable option for those who may not be good candidates for spine surgery.
Unlike a spinal fusion, the Vertiflex system can restore the disc space on multiple levels, while still preserving the option for future surgery if necessary.
"Because it is minimally-invasive, the Vertiflex procedure is a solution for back pain patients for whom medications or injections have failed."Ronald C. Segura, MD
How does the Vertiflex Superion implant work?
The implant works by spreading the compressed vertebrae apart and holding them in the proper position. Because the Vertiflex procedure restores the space between the vertebrae and where the nerves exit the spine, the pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves can be relieved.
The Vertiflex procedure won’t “loosen” the stability of the spine like a laminectomy can. And, unlike a spinal fusion, it preserves the range of motion in the lower back so there is no risk of adjacent segment disease.
"Unlike a fusion procedure, the Vertiflex procedure gives you time and preserves the option for a future surgical procedure, should you need it."Ronald C. Segura, MD
What does the Vertiflex procedure entail?
The Vertiflex procedure is performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The doctor will first numb the affected area with general anesthesia. A tiny, ½ inch incision is made at the site of the insertion. Guided using real-time x-ray, a small tube about the size of a dime, also called a dilator, is used to move the surrounding tissue out of the way, instead of cutting through it. The dilator gives the doctor a clear path to place the implant between the vertebrae.
The wings of the implant are adjusted open to slowly spread the vertebrae apart, returning them to a natural, pain-free position. The implant is then secured in place, the incision is closed with a single suture, and covered with a band-aid.
The entire procedure takes about twenty to thirty minutes, depending on the number of implants being inserted (up to two at a time). By moving tissue around rather than cutting it, patients experience a much easier healing process compared to open spine surgery.
After the procedure
After the procedure, it is not unusual for you to enjoy a significant reduction in pain within the first few days. While all patients are different, typically, the doctor will tell you to give your body about 6 weeks to heal from the surgery. During this time, you should take it easy. Most patients can travel and engage in light activity such as walking as soon as they can do so comfortably. You will then begin physical therapy. Patients who continue to exercise regularly with a focus on improving their core strength achieve the best long-term results.
According to the Superion® Patient Education brochure published by Vertiflex, after 60 months, almost every patient in a clinical trial was satisfied with their implant.
“After 60 months, almost every patient in a clinical trial was satisfied with their implant.”Superion® Patient Education brochure
Is a Vertiflex procedure right for you?
Are you ready to take control of your painful lumbar spinal stenosis? If conservative approaches like epidural steroid injections or physical therapy haven't relieved your pain, and surgery seems too aggressive, the Superion implant for lumbar spinal stenosis may be ideal for you.
Click here to request an appointment online, or call us directly to set up an appointment to learn more about your options at (985) 231-6751.
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