If you have been experiencing pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness in your buttocks and legs, including your calves, you may have spinal stenosis. If you have undergone treatment for your pain, but not experienced relief, you may be a candidate for the minimally invasive treatment of VertiFlex Superion Interspinous Spacer.
What is spinal stenosis?
Your spine is made up of 26 vertebrae, the discs between each vertebra that absorb the shock of movement and provide flexibility and your spinal cord. The bones are arranged in a column surrounding your spinal cord and provide necessary protection for the spinal cord and the nerve roots associated with it. Spinal stenosis occurs when the vertebrae become compressed.
The natural wear-and-tear of walking, bending, running, lifting, and moving in general often cause osteoarthritis, the inflammation of bone and its associated connective tissues. Osteoarthritis can cause the vertebrae to weaken. As a result of that weakening, the spine can become compressed and this can cause pinching of the nerves associated with the spinal cord. Osteoarthritis can also cause degenerative spondylolisthesis--the slipping of the vertebrae over one another--and that can cause spinal stenosis as well.
As you age, the discs of cartilage located between each vertebrae, intervertebral discs, become less spongy and can harden. This can result in the loss of disc height which causes a narrowing of the vertebral column, or spinal stenosis. Most people who are diagnosed with spinal stenosis are over 50 years of age.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is marked by pain in the legs and buttocks. You might experience numbness and tingling in the area as well as some weakness. For some people, the pain and tingling also occurs in the lower back and cramping in the calves while walking also occurs. Another symptom, though rare, is the loss of motility in the legs and sometimes control of the bowels and bladder is affected. Symptoms can vary and usually grow worse over time. Sometimes the pain becomes unbearable. Sufferers must frequently sit down or lean forward (like over a countertop) to ease the pain.
What is VertiFlex Superion?
VertiFlex Superion is a minimally invasive new treatment for spinal stenosis. It is a device, shaped sort of like the letter “H,” that is inserted in the space between the vertebrae that have become compressed due to spinal stenosis. Once the device is placed in the interspinous process space, it is opened. This creates more space between the vertebrae and relieves the pressure the compressed bones are putting on the spinal cord and its associated nerve roots.
The doctor makes an incision in the back and inserts a tube into the space where the VertiFlex Superion will be inserted. Once the tube is in place, the Vertiflex Superion spacer is pushed through the tube to the interspinous process space. The device is opened to a point that corrects the compression of the bone. It creates more space between the vertebrae. The tube is removed and the incision is closed. By creating the space and maintaining, the patient can experience permanent pain relief. The treatment is reversible, so the device can be removed.
VertiFlex Superion is for patients whose pain has not responded to other non-operative treatments, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy, for at least six months. Patients should be in otherwise good health in order to undergo the treatment. In addition, patients with a known allergy or intolerance to titanium are not candidates for VertiFlex Superion treatment.
VertiFlex Superion Interspinous Spacer is a relatively new treatment for spinal stenosis. If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and your pain and/or weakness is not responding to medication, physical therapy or other non-operative treatments, you may be a candidate for VertiFlex Superions. Talk to you doctor; you do not have to live with the pain!
Dr. Jay M. Shah offers this innovative procedure to patients in West Orange and Colonia, New Jersey. To learn more, call SamWell Institute for Pain Management or use the online tool to request an appointment.