Archive for the ‘Decompression Treatment’ Category

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New Treatment For Spinal Stenosis

A new procedure for treating spinal stenosis shows great promise for some spinal stenosis sufferers.

A minimally invasive procedure for removing portions of tendons coming into contact with the patient’s  spinal cord has provided nearly instantaneous and permanent relief from stenosis pain. But this will work only for some, not all, stenosis patients.


In this procedure, a local anesthesia numbs an area ot the back to enable a small needle with a cutting feature to be  inserted into the patient’s back to an area where there is a lumbar decompression caused by a tendon that is touching the spine. The cutting device trims away the portion of the tendon that is touching the spine, and the pain is eliminated. The procedure takes less than an hour, and since only a local anesthesia is required, patients can be discharged within several hours after the procedure. Just like any other out-patient operation.


Not all spinal stenosis can be treated so simply,however,  but for those sufferers whose stenosis pain is being caused by this source, this is truly welcome news.


How Do You Know Your Back Pain is Spinal Stenosis?


Spinal stenosis describes the painful form of back pain caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal or a vertebra that comes into contact with the spinal cord resulting in back pain that sometimes radiates through the lower extremities. The symptom of this type of stenosis  is leg pain and fatigue that occurs when walking that can only be relieved by sitting down. If this describes your condition, you should contact a specialist.


You must first be diagnosed with spinal stenosis that can only be determined through a MRI. This will determine whether your back pain is in fact being created by  your tendon pinching your spinal nerves. If this is determined to be the cause of your back and leg discomfort, it could be your lucky day!


But you must first contact a back pain specialist to see if a MRI is needed.



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Diagnosing Back Pain From Degenerative Disc Disease

Low back pain from degenerative disc disease can be severe and cause depression, lost time from work, and hinder recreational activities. How does a doctor diagnose the problem? And then how does a doctor guarantee that the problem intervertebral disk is the cause of one’s back pain?

The intervertebral lumbar disk is made of two parts analagous to a jelly donut. The inside part, the jelly, is known as the nucleus pulposus and does not cause any pain. The outer part, the anulus fibrosus, does have nerve endings and if they are injured the individual can have acute and potentially chronic back pain as a result.

When a patient has back pain, the work up includes the following.

  1. History and Physical – Typically the patient has pain located in the low back, and often aggravated while sitting and in flexion posture. Studies have shown flexion positions actually increase pressure on the lumbar disc.

  2. X-rays – Plain films are a standard initial imaging workup. Plain films can show degenerative disc disease as a decreased space between the vertebrae so there is less space between the bones. Hence, this is an indirect diagnosis. Be aware that x-rays may show a decrease in disk height that reflects degenerative disk disease but may not in fact be the source of one’s pain.

  3. MRI – A Magnetic Resonance Image is very good at noticing differences in the soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system. If a lumbar disk is degenerated, the MRI will detect the loss of water and the disc will show up dark on the scan. Also an MRI can sometimes show a tear in the outer part of the lumbar disk, the anulus. As with x-rays, an MRI can suggest that a lumbar disc that is degenerative may be producing back pain, but may just be an incidental finding.

  4. Lumbar Discogram – A discogram is a study meant to delineate if the lumbar disk is the source of low back pain. Discograms are done with sedation, however, the patient is not out completely since the pain doctor needs input during the study from the patient. Usually a control level is included at a disc level thought to be normal. The pain doctor places the needle into the disk space and injects dye along with the fluid. This fluid is designed to raise intradiscal pressure and produce pain from the degenerated disk. There are three potential answers. One is the person has no pain. Two is the patient has pain from the fluid that is unlike what he experiences on a daily basis. That constitutes a negative study at that particular level. Three is the individual has the exact same pain he or she has on a daily basis. That is therefore a positive study. A diskogram therefore has no true therapeutic benefit and does not relieve pain, it actually creates it! The study serves a diagnostic benefit for pre-operative planning.

Currently the studies used to diagnose degenerative disk disease, known as DDD, are the best modern medicine has to offer. There is not one study that is definitive.


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