One of the most common ailments, back pain can range from being a nuisance to debilitating. Nearly 80% of all Americans have or will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. And while most back pain is caused by muscle strain, there are also a variety of traumatic and degenerative conditions that may cause extreme back pain that until recently could only be alleviated with major surgery that required a long downtime. These include but are not limited to:
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone fractures
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
Most back pain can be treated with non-surgical treatment which includes rest, medication, physical therapy, spinal injections and the use of orthotics. However, for patients who suffer from chronic back pain and for whom non-surgical treatment has not worked, surgery may be required. San Francisco Back Specialist, Dr. Kenneth Light says 2 new revolutionizing back treatments may help with severe back problems with less downtime.
- The "X-LIF" System
The Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion or "X-LIF," is a minimally invasive back surgery that treats spinal disc degeneration and other back problems. Through a small incision (vs. the traditional 12-inch incision) over the hurt disc, x-rays guide tubes into the spine. Specially designed to avoid muscle and tissue, the tubes are locked into place so the physician can fuse the spine. Other benefits vs. traditional open back surgery are: less blood loss, smaller incision required, quicker operation time and spinal disc fusion is better. Standard back surgery typically takes 6 months to a year to fully recover but the X-LIF technique cuts downtime down to 6-8 weeks.
A total disc replacement using a device called the "Pro-Disc-L Implant" to fix complicated back problems without a full spinal fusion. Previously, treatment for certain back injuries, including work related injuries, was a spinal fusion procedure. Although done to stabilize the spine and prevent further damage, the procedure meant a variable loss of movement and in many cases, recurring pain. In reference to the Pro-Disc, Dr. Light says, "Artificial disc replacement is an attempt to fix complicated back problems without resorting to a spinal fusion." The implant is designed with the normal range of motion from the spine and most patients can return to regular activities in days. "I believe that artificial disc replacement will eventually replace 70% to 80% of all spinal fusion surgeries," says Dr. Light.