New Surgery For Lower Back Pains

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

June 29, 2005

Over 65 million Americans suffer from lower back pain every year, but less than one in five visit a physician.

"Over 80 percent of the American population will have in their lifetime, lower back pain," said Dr. Vincent Arlet, Orthopedic Surgeon.

Spinal Fusion surgery is the current procedure for those with Degenerative Disc Disease. Doctors actually remove the disk and fuse together two vertebrae in the lower back to relieve pain.

"The major drawback is that the bottom of the spine doesn't move any more," said Arlet.

But a new procedure called Disk Replacement Surgery actually inserts an artificial disk between vertebra, made of metal and plastic

"If we maintain motion with an artificial disk, we can expect the wear of the disk to be less. And that's the goal of the artificial disk. The goal is to take away the pain," said Arlet.

Over 200,000 Americans get spinal fusion surgery every year, but this new procedure is sure to lessen the number.

People that are eligible for surgery are those with lower back pain and no leg pain that have tried physical therapy, weight-loss, and anti-inflammatory medicine.

"Patients will come the morning to the hospital, be operated on, and leave two days afterwards," said Arlet.

There are risks involved, but Arlet said the worst side effect was the procedure not relieving the pain, however his success rate has been 75-85 percent.

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