New Surgery Helps with Debilitating Back Pain

I’m a regular at the Chiropractor’s office due to an old back injury, so any type of new back surgery usually catches my eye the way a raven eyes anything shiny that it flies past.  There are a lot of people who suffer from back pain and are probably equally as curious.  This new procedure might help if you have pain preventing you from living a full, happy life. 

If you are interested in getting a consultation for TruFUSE, post your request on MediBid under Orthopedic, Spinal Fusion Surgery

by Meg Farris / Eyewitness News – –

NEW ORLEANS — Until recently, there was no procedure that could help people with a certain type of back pain, a type of back pain that is debilitating and keeps people from having a normal life.

But a new procedure to this area is changing lives.

Mary Turner has always been active, even walking a few times in the Crescent City Classic. But a few years ago her entire life changed.

“The first time I noticed it, is when I was putting my granddaughter to sleep and I laid down with her and I couldn’t get up,” said Mary Turner of Metairie.

Over time, Turner needed pain management treatments.

“It helped for a little bit and then it stopped helping at all. The pain got progressively worse,” Turner explained.

And then her quality of life dramatically changed.

“I couldn’t walk. I used to walk. Just to get a meal cooked sometimes, I used to have to call my husband in to finish the meal because I couldn’t stand up that long. I couldn’t clean the house. Last time I vacuumed, I did it sitting on the floor,” she said with tears, remembering the pain.

So she turned to Dr. Stephen Rynick, a physiatrist and interventional pain management specialist at the Culicchia Neurological Clinic on the West Bank. He said that the pain was coming from facet joints in her lower back. Bone was on bone because the cartilage was wearing away.

“Just like knees and hips and shoulders, they can wear out and that is what happens. Typically the lowest joints start to wear out first,” explained Rynick.

So Rynick offered her a new type of back procedure that could give Turner her life back. On Nov. 4, at West Jefferson Medical Center, Turner had a procedure called TruFUSE Facet Fusion. The doctor uses small instruments to go in an incision in the back that’s only a half inch long.

The doctor is guided inside the body through an X-ray fluoroscope. Through those instruments, a small, cone-shaped bone implant is put in between the two bones that are rubbing. This keeps the bones from moving. Bone paste is put in the area to help the bones grow across the joint where the cartilage used to be. Eventually, the joint becomes solid bone. The two sides are fused, no longer rubbing, and when they can’t move, they can no longer cause pain.

The surgery is done under general anesthesia and only lasts 30 minutes. Patients go home the next day and for several weeks wear a lumbar brace to give the bones time to fuse.

“It’s a tremendous innovation. It’s a great opportunity for patients who have previously had no really good answer for this particular type of pain,” said Rynick.

Rynick was the first in this area to do this procedure. He’s done the procedure on about 25 patients in 2010. He is now teaching other doctors how to do it.

In the past, there was only major surgery, putting metal hardware and screws in the body, but that was more than the small facet joints needed. Still this new surgery is not for people who have pain running down the leg, only for people who have a certain type of back pain.

“This procedure is not a panacea. It’s not the right procedure for everybody. It is the right procedure when there’s pain in the joint and there’s not a problem with the disc and there’s not a problem with the nerve,” he explained.

Turner was the perfect candidate for the TruFUSE and said now more than a month after her surgery, she’s getting her life back.

“Well this first time I was able to lay on my back without being in severe pain. Walking is much easier. I can stand for a longer length of time,” Turner said happily.

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