A Minimally Invasive Alternative to Open Spine Surgery

Roughly 80% of Americans experience back pain at some point in their life. While the pain goes away in the vast majority of cases, about 5% of patients with aching backs will develop chronic pain. In the United States, at least $50 billion is spent each year on medications, hot and cold packs, and other methods of treating back pain. Data show that back pain is second only to headaches as the most common neurological ailment in the United States. Until recently, the only option for people with back pain when other methods of pain control have failed has been open surgery, which involves general anesthesia, a hospital stay, large scars, and long recovery times. Unfortunately, these surgeries fail to provide lasting relief in many cases, leaving many patients to rely on narcotic pain relievers for the rest of their lives. Smaller is Better Newer, minimally invasive procedures are being explored and appear to be particularly promising for patients with chronic back pain. Endoscopic spine procedures can be used to correct many of the conditions that cause chronic back pain or to repair failed previous surgeries. These procedures allow surgeons to see the spine and surrounding tissue without making large incisions. Spine surgery is a common procedure for the treatment of lower back pain, and these operations typically use cages, bone grafts, bars, and screws. If patients continue to have pain, they may develop failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). For people suffering with FBSS, the pain is often much worse than it was prior to their surgery. Many FBSS patients are disabled, isolated, and heavily medicated. Research suggests that...