With more than a quarter of the country’s adults suffering from it, low back pain is the biggest reason people miss work, complain to their doctor and generally stop living their lives, research shows.
In sheer numbers, it’s a worse scourge than diabetes and heart disease.
The solution to that pain might very well lie in reducing the size of your enlarged lumbar to fix what’s known as lumbar spinal stenosis, according to a California-based medical company that rolled their tour bus into West Palm Beach with a presentation Wednesday. The company also visited Sarasota earlier in the week.
Vertos Medical, a medical device company, has dispatched a team of doctors and communicators to tour the East Coast, ending in Miami later this week at the conference of the American Society of Pain & Neuroscience, its partner in what they are calling the “Know Your Back Story” campaign.
Wednesday at the Ben hotel, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, the exhibit took over the conference area. The media was invited for breakfast, patients for lunch and doctors for the evening session.
“I’ve never seen a procedure change more lives,” said Dr. Alexander Escobar, an anesthesiologist and interventional pain physician, who also teaches at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
He addressed the assembled sitting at cloth-covered tables with centerpieces of four-inch squishy models of spine segments, complete with a QR code that will lead to the company website.
Injections, over-the-counter medications and physical therapy are the first line of defense against back pain, the doctors agreed. But if pain persists after those efforts, it might be time to turn to this “mild procedure,” according to representatives of Vertos Medical, who were joined Wednesday by Dr. David Roufaiel, who runs a pain management center in Jupiter.
The procedure involves anesthesia no more intense than what you get with a routine colonoscopy, an incision no bigger than a baby aspirin and a recovery no longer than 30 minutes after the hour-long procedure is over, according to Wednesday’s presentation.
Vertos’ procedure involves removing the bony overgrowth that is causing the pressure on the spinal nerves. Proprietary instruments guided by ultrasound or a fluoroscope scoop out the materials causing the pain.
The procedure underwent 16 clinical trials. It received Food and Drug Administration approval and inclusion in Medicare’s covered procedures.
About 50,000 patients have undergone the procedure since it started being offered in 2008. Checking in with patients five years later, 80% reported being satisfied with the result, Escobar said.
Those suffering from this lumbar spinal stenosis often experience tingling and pain when walking that is relieved by sitting down. But the key to determining whether the procedure is needed lies in getting the proper imaging to see if the lumbar is enlarged, the doctors at Wednesday’s event said.
Jupiter’s Roufaiel said he learned about it while he was in his fellowship training in New York City. He said the procedure is like straightening out a kink in the spine.
“Pain is a symptom, not a condition,” he said, explaining this treatment goes to the heart of the pain’s cause.