A Back Surgery Alternative

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Local Beach Park resident Brad Walters was living an active life, riding his motorcycle, fishing and spending quality time with his family. But a few years ago he experienced an accident on the job as a Northbrook garbageman. As his back and hip pain worsened, Brad’s quality of life changed dramatically.

“I couldn’t even tie my shoes.” says Brad. “I couldn’t do anything. I fought through my day at work and would come home and sit in the chair, soaked, whatever I could do to eliminate the pain. That’s what my life was about.”

Brad sought treatment from local orthopaedic spine specialist Dr. Thomas McNally from Suburban Orthopaedics and was diagnosed with a herniated disc from his accident. However, Dr. McNally told Brad he was suffering from another condition, one becoming more and more prevalent in aging baby boomers, called lumbar spinal stenosis. The condition is a narrowing of the open spaces in the spine which puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. It occurs most often in the neck and lower back. Lumbar spinal stenosis affects more than 3 million aging Americans and numbers are expected to rise. Treatments include steroid injections and physical therapy. For more advanced cases, like Brad’s, surgery is needed to relieve the pressure on any aggravated nerves in the lower back. Traditionally, surgery would require long recovery time but with a new technology called iO-Flex, surgery is much simpler.

“iO-Flex is a way of approaching the problem minimally invasively with less of a blood loss, less operative time, faster recovery and fewer risks.” says Dr. McNally.

After surgery, Brad says he doesn’t feel any pain in his hip or back and he has regained his quality of life. Dr. McNally says people shouldn’t fear seeing their doctor for back pain. He says many people put it off like Brad in fear of surgery and advances like the iO-Flex system make correcting a growing problem much easier.

“The population who get lumbar spinal stenosis are older people and they have higher risks because of other medical conditions, heart issues, other organs could have problems.” he says. “By using iO-Flex, some people that would historically go onto fusion, because you need to remove so much of the joint, these people can get by on decompression alone which is a faster recovery. Almost everyone has some kind of relative with a spinal problem. This is an approach that can alleviate the patients symptoms without destabilizing the spine and minimizing the amount of surgery that they have.”

If you or a loved one are experiencing back pain, it’s important to talk to your primary care physician and be referred to a specialist if necessary.

Click here for more information on lumbar spinal stenosis.

Follow this link to learn more about the iO-Flex technology.

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