It has been estimated that 95 percent of the population has degenerative changes of the spine by the time they reach the age of 50.[i] There are 14 million Americans suffering from symptoms related to spinal stenosis, with approximately 600,000 more added annually.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal starts to narrow and the open spaces between the vertebrae get smaller and pinch on nearby nerves. It usually results in pain, weakness, numbness or stiffness in the legs, buttocks and groin. Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), which occurs in the lower back, is the largest reason adults over 65 have spinal surgery.
But there is a safe, comfortable and non-surgical, minimally invasive option for treating spinal stenosis called Vertiflex. An FDA clinical trial demonstrated that the procedure brings a 79 percent reduction in leg pain caused by spinal stenosis. Among those patients who were followed for 60 months after surgery, 90 percent expressed overall satisfaction.[iii]
How Vertiflex Works
Vertiflex is performed on an out-patient basis. The physician uses a local anesthetic to numb the lumbar region and then makes a dime-sized incision in the back. A small h-shaped spacer is fed through a tube and placed between the vertebrae to expand the space and relieve the pressure on affected nerves.
Because the procedure is performed using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance, it is targeted to the exact source of the problem so there is less tissue damage and blood loss. The entire procedure usually only takes about an hour and patients are kept comfortable for a few more hours before they go home.
Vertiflex offers implants in various sizes, so patients can enjoy stable movement of the spine immediately afterward with minimal post-procedure complications. It is designed for patients with mild to moderate Lumbar spinal stenosis and ideal for patients who don’t want, or cannot tolerate, a large spinal procedure.
A New Lease on Life
For many patients, Vertiflex has been a game-changer. Those who in the past were not considered candidates for invasive back surgery (laminectomy) have achieved relief from the searing pain of spinal stenosis through Vertiflex and regained their quality of life. And even some patients who have had unsuccessful back surgery have found pain relief through Vertiflex. Because this procedure is covered by Medicare, it is more readily available to patients. In fact, over 25,000 Vertiflex procedures have been performed.
A 5-year case study with 471 patients concluded: Patients experience 70% relief from their back pain, 80% reduction of leg pain, and after 5 years, over 90% of patients are still satisfied with their results. What’s even more important is that 85% of patients who have the Vertiflex procedure are completely off opioids at 5 years post-procedure.
Patients who have sought help for spinal stenosis in the past (even the recent past), should not assume there is no hope for pain relief. Advances in the field of interventional pain management are happening daily. That means that thanks to procedures like Vertiflex, which was introduced three years ago, we are seeing a decline in the number of major surgeries for spinal stenosis, which was the fastest-growing type of lumbar surgery in the United States from 1980-2000.[iv]