A small implant could be just what you need to ease chronic back pain

Tampa, Fla - As a full-time nurse with five children, Cheryl dote spends a lot of time on her feet. For the last four years, she's done that with debilitating back and leg pain.

"I would be in tears some nights," Cheryl said.

She tried physical therapy, pain relievers and pain injections, but the pain always won. “I actually thought I was going to end up in a wheelchair."

Like more than a million other Americans, she has lumbar spinal stenosis. In her search for help, she found Upstate Medical University Doctor Richard Tallarico.  "In the most aggressive forms, patients can't stand to walk for even a few minutes, so it's very functionally disabling," he said.

Standing or walking compresses the spine and pinches the nerves, causing pain. Patients only get relief when they're sitting or stooped over. Now, Doctor Tallarico and a team of doctors are studying the Superion Spacer to relieve the pain. Doctor Tallarico says, “Compared to what we've had in the past, this is a much easier way to approach this from both the surgeon and the patient perspective."

First, surgeons make a half-inch incision in the back. The spacer is inserted where it's needed and acts like a wedge, which permanently spreads open the spinal canal. Doctor Tallarico says, “It allows the spine to remain in a flexed position, mimicking the sitting position."

Cheryl had the spacer put in and says the relief she feels changed her life. Cheryl says, “It was 100 percent better. It's still 100 percent better."

Now, her focus is on her kids, instead of her pain. The spacer is still under study, and the trial is open to patients across the country. If study results hold up, doctors hope this will get F-D-A approval and be available to the masses within three years.

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