BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — At any given time, 31 million Americans will experience back pain. For some, the pain and numbness is caused by a problem in one of the discs in the back, the shock absorbers between vertebrae. Now, a minimally-invasive technique provides quick relief and gets patients on their feet faster than ever.
Michael Ryan is back to competitive biking these days. It’s just one of the ways he maintains a 50-pound weight loss.
Ryan told Ivanhoe, “I believe the combination of me trying to exercise with all that extra weight really helped bring on the condition that I had.”
Several years ago, Ryan began having sharp pains in his back and numbness in his legs and feet, caused by degenerative disc disease.
“Basically my discs are dehydrating and squishing together,” explained Ryan.
For this active 51-year-old, major back surgery would limit his mobility. Instead, Charles Edwards, M.D., medical director of Maryland Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, recommended microscopic lumbar decompression. Rather than making a large incision, Dr. Edwards makes a one-inch incision in the back.
Dr. Edwards detailed, “I dissect the muscles over that area of the spine so that I can see the nerves themselves. I then remove the portion of the disc which is pressing on the nerves and confirm the nerve is nice and free.” (Read Full Interview)
For Ryan, the pain and numbness went away immediately. Four weeks after surgery he was running again. Two years after surgery, he finished fourth in his age group in the Arizona Ironman Triathlon, qualifying for the world championships.
“It’s been a long road, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I not had the procedure,” said Ryan.
Doctors usually recommend treating back pain conservatively. If medication and physical therapy don’t work, then a patient may be a candidate for spinal decompression surgery. For many patients, the decompression is outpatient surgery and does not require an overnight stay.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS – RESEARCH SUMMARY
TOPIC: Easy, Fast Fix For Backs
REPORT: MB #4185
BACKGROUND: Back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Around 31 million Americans suffer from this pain at any given time. Back pain is very common since the back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. There are outside reasons that can cause back pain like a sport injury or an accident; however, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, diseases from internal organs, and stress are organic causes that can produce this common pain as well.
TREATMENTS: Before treating back pain a series of test will be performed on the patient in order to understand what’s causing the pain. Most of the time, blood and urine tests, MRIs and CTs are taken in order to determine the cause. The treatment of the back pain will depend on what’s causing it. If the pain is mild, ice packs, medication and physical therapy like massages, ultrasound, whirlpool baths and specific exercise plans may be recommended. If the pain is keeping the patient away from daily activities, pain medication and muscle relaxants may be prescribed. When the pain is chronic and no medication is helping, steroids may be helpful. Lastly, if the patient suffers from a herniated disc or pinching of the nerve from the spinal cord, surgery may be indicated.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Even though surgery may be a necessary step for relieving chronic back pain, it can also come with a lot of side effects. The human body is an amazing machine requiring the cooperation of the bones, the ligaments and the muscles to work together in tremendous harmony. A big surgery can disrupt that harmony and prevent an individual from getting back to high performance and daily routines. Dr. Charles Edwards is performing a type of surgery called microscopic lumbar decompression that can help with the size of the incision and recovery time. During this procedure, the patient is face down, an X-ray is taken to make sure that the doctor is at the proper location and then he makes a one-inch incision. Dr. Edwards dissects the muscles over that area of the spine so that he can see the nerves themselves. He then gently move the nerves off of the disc herniation or the bone spurs, and then removes the portion of the disc which is pressing on the nerves and confirms that the nerve is nice and free. With microscopic decompression techniques a majority of patients get to go home the same day. (Source: Dr. Charles Edwards)
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