Lower back pain and sciatica are common conditions that can impact quality of life and mobility. Spinal stenosis is often the cause of lower back pain due to nerve compression caused by narrowing of the spinal column. There are new treatments to offer relief from spinal stenosis pain, including the Vertiflex™ procedure.
Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal column, can occur for multiple reasons. Herniated discs, thickened ligaments, bone spurs, wear/tear, degenerative conditions and other factors can decrease the space between the vertebrae. When this occurs, the nerves and spinal cord can be affected.
Patients with spinal stenosis may experience lower back pain, radiating pain into the legs, and weakness in the legs/feet. When conservative treatments do not relieve the symptoms, surgery may be the only option. The Vertiflex procedure is an alternative to other more invasive surgery options for spinal stenosis.
Minimally-Invasive Vertiflex Procedure
The Vertiflex procedure is a minimally-invasive surgery that can be performed without general anesthesia. Patients lay on their stomach and the targeted area near the spine is numbed with a local anesthetic. Using only local anesthesia minimizes risk for the patient and speeds the recovery time.
During the procedure, a small incision is made to access the spinal column. A dilator is used to move tissue to access the spine – no tissue is cut. The Vertigo implant is placed to spread apart the vertebrae to relieve nerve compression. The incision is closed with sutures, and the patient can go home shortly after.
What Is a Vertiflex Implant?
The Vertiflex implant (Vertiflex Superion®) is a small device made from titanium that has wings or arms that open. The implant is inserted in between the vertebrae, then the arms are opened to spread the vertebrae apart. The design of the Vertiflex allows it to be inserted through an incision that is only about ½ inch long.
Once the Vertiflex implant is in place, the incision is closed. Recovery and downtime are minimal; patients may have a little tenderness at the incision, but there is very little pain. Many patients begin noticing relief from the spinal stenosis symptoms within a few days after their procedure.
How Long Does Vertiflex Last?
The Vertiflex implant is made to last for about 48 months before it should be replaced. The titanium device is well-tolerated by most patients and there have been very few complications with this procedure. Patients can have more than one implant placed in their spine for relief.
Benefits of the Vertiflex Procedure
The Vertiflex procedure has many benefits over the traditional surgeries used for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Patients who faced a laminectomy or spine fusion surgery with a hospital stay and longer downtime may be good candidates for the minimally-invasive Vertiflex procedure. Benefits include:
- Procedure only takes about 30 minutes to complete
- Minimal pain during recovery
- No muscles or tissue is cut during the procedure for quicker healing
- No destabilization of the spine
- FDA-approved treatment for LSS
- Very high success
- Vertiflex procedure side effects are very minor
- Patients can return home the same day
Some studies have reported that 80% of patients with the Vertiflex implant are pleased with their pain relief five years after the procedure. Patients have less back and leg pain, reducing the need for opioids and other pain medication.
There are very few Vertiflex procedure side effects. As with any surgery, there are risks for infection or reaction to the Vertiflex implant, but these are minimal. The procedure has a very high success rate with much fewer complications reported than with more invasive spine surgeries.
Most patients can return to normal activities that are not strenuous on the lower back within a few days of their procedure. It is recommended to restrict lifting, bending and strain on the lower back for about six weeks after the Vertiflex implant is inserted.
Ideal Candidates for the Vertiflex Procedure
Spinal stenosis often is caused by other spinal conditions. Osteoporosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spondylosis and other spine conditions can contribute to spinal stenosis and the associated pain. Patients with these conditions may be good candidates for a Vertiflex implant to relieve nerve pain.
Patients who are considering a laminectomy or spinal fusion may benefit from a less invasive procedure. The Vertiflex treatment does not remove bone or restrict movement like a laminectomy or fusion, with less risks and recovery time. This can be an alternative to invasive surgery for many patients.
If you suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis and other lumbar spine pain conditions, you may be a good candidate for the Vertiflex procedure. The majority of patients with spinal stenosis pain are 60 years of age or older, but individuals of all ages with LSS may benefit from this treatment.
To learn more about the Vertiflex Superion® implant and spine decompression procedure, contact a spine specialist in your area.