When back pain due to a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis) reaches a point where the pain is debilitating, spinal fusion surgery is often the only option left. While a spinal fusion can provide relief, it can also lead to limited mobility for some patients. A new joint replacement treatment may offer the same relief while allowing the patient to retain full mobility.
The clinical trial testing this new joint replacement surgery is taking place at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center and several centers throughout the United States involving more than 300 patients. During the procedure, parts of the facet joints (moveable joints connecting vertebrae to one another) were removed from patients. Artificial facet joints were then implanted to replace the joints.
Unlike a spinal fusion, the artificial joints are designed to retain full mobility while also providing the desired relief from the patient’s severe lower back pain. Since the spine is not fused during the joint replacement, there is no decrease in movement once the patient has healed from the surgery.
The artificial replacement joints used for the surgery are customized for comfort and function. The new surgery utilizes specially created joints designed to mimic actual facet joints. Each joint is then carefully sized and modified as necessary for each test patient. The FDA has approved the customized facets for use in the ongoing clinical trials and subsequent follow-up testing.
Lumbar spinal stenosis typically occurs with aging when the facet joints become larger. The increased size of these joints results in pressure on the spinal roots in the lower back, resulting in pain that’s usually aggravated by any type of movement, even light lifting. The new joint replacement surgery, while still in the clinical trial phase, offers a promising alternative to spinal fusion surgery.
For more information about spinal fusion alternatives, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration in Santa Monica today. Dr. Hyun Bae specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery that promotes mobility and range of motion, allowing patients to get back to doing the things they love as soon as possible. Call us today at 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.