Spinal Spacer

If you are experiencing numbness, pain, leg weakness, or difficulty walking, the cause of this problem could be due to lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is generally an age-related condition that causes the space available for neural tissues in your vertebrae to narrow or decrease. In severe cases, this condition can also cause the movement of one of your vertebrae out of alignment.

While this condition is mainly age-related, it could also be due to herniated disks, spine injury, tumors, or thick ligaments. Regardless of the cause, this condition is treatable, and visiting a pain specialist could help. Your pain specialist can explore several modern and non-invasive treatments to fix the problem, including having an interspinous spine spacer placed into your vertebrae.

Your pain specialist will recommend the placement of an interspinous spacer in your back, mainly if your spinal stenosis condition is severe or when other non-surgical treatment options have failed. If that is the case, there is no need to fret because this surgical procedure is non-invasive and will take less than two hours of your time.

Our Los Angeles pain specialists at LAMIS Institute can help you determine if this procedure is necessary to fix your unique spinal problem. Read on to know more about spinal spacer as an effective remedy for spinal stenosis.

Understanding What Interspinous Spinal Spacer is and How it Works

If your doctor has diagnosed you with moderate lumbar spinal stenosis, conservative treatment procedures like physical therapy could help reduce or manage this condition's uncomfortable symptoms.

However, if these treatment options do not provide the relief you need, your pain specialist could recommend a surgical procedure like interspinous spinal spacer placement. An interspinous spinal spacer is an implant or device designed to keep the space between the spinous process open to prevent the nerves on your back from being pinched whenever you stand up.

Several different types of interspinous spinal spacers are available that a pain specialist could recommend as a remedy for symptoms caused by lumbar spinal stenosis. However, this article will focus primarily on the X-stop spinal spacer, which the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved as a remedy for managing the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis in patients.

Kyphon Inc is the company that manufactures this device, and it consists of two titanium pieces. The first titanium piece your pain specialist will implant under the spinous process. The second titanium piece is plate-like, and your specialist will place it precisely on the opposite side of the spinous process of the affected segment of your vertebrae, and then he/she will attach it to the first.

The spinal spacer typically works or functions like a car jack. Once inserted on your back, it separates the spinous processes, opening up the compressed pathways in your vertebrae. As a result, the pressure on your nerves reduces, alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Preparations Needed for the Interspinous Spine Spacer Placement Process

Although it is a surgical procedure, the interspinous spine spacer placement procedure is not invasive as many assume. When you visit your pain specialist clinic, an anesthetist will briefly inform you about the type of anesthesia your pain specialist will use and what to expect during the process.

He/she will also allow you to ask questions and raise concerns about this treatment procedure. Since your pain specialist will perform the spinal spacer placement procedure under local anesthesia, you will be asleep during the process, meaning you will not experience any pain

Before the procedure or surgery date, your specialist will provide you with any necessary guidelines for any preparation you must make ahead of time. Like any other surgery, it is important to inform your pain specialist about any medications you are currently on before the surgery, including herbal drugs, because some medicines could slow or alter the blood clotting process.

For instance, aspirin and antidepressants could increase your risk of bleeding during surgery. Additionally, your specialist could require you to do the following before undergoing interspinous spinal placement surgery:

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid consuming food and drinking any beverage six hours before the surgery
  • Avoid bathing with certain soaps
  • Avoid wearing jewelry on your surgery date

What to Expect During Your Interspinous Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery

For the precise treatment you need, your specialist could require radiological imaging tests or scans of the affected region of your spine, including X-ray and MRI scans. Interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery is typically a simple procedure that your pain specialist can perform at an outpatient surgical center. Here is what to expect during this procedure:

  1. Your pain specialist will make a small incision on the lower part of your back
  2. Under fluoroscopic guidance, your specialist will insert small tubes into the incision site to reach the interspinous area
  3. Once these tubes are in place, your specialist will place the interspinous spinal spacer into your lower back
  4. Once the interspinous spinal spacer is in its ideal position in between two of your vertebrae, its arms and projections will open around the spinous process of your lumbar spine to lock the implant to place
  5. To finish up this procedure, your specialist will close the incision site using one or two sutures

As previously mentioned, this procedure will take less than two hours of your time, meaning your specialist can discharge you the same day to go home. Before you leave your specialist's clinic, he/she will guide you on how to care for the incision site and accelerate the healing process.

One of the main advantages of this procedure is that your specialist will not have to remove any tissue or bone during the placement of the interspinous spinal spacer. Since the procedure is reversible, it is also possible for your specialist to explore other treatment options in the future if the device does not give you the relief you need.

Because the incision required is small and the tube your pain specialist will use to place the spinal spacer on your vertebrae is also small, tissue damage and blood loss are minimal during the procedure. Therefore, there is no need to fret when your specialists recommend interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery as a remedy to lower the bothersome symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Benefits of Interspinous Spinal Spacer as a Remedy for Spinal Stenosis

Undoubtedly, you will enjoy several benefits if you undergo interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery, especially when compared to other surgical options for fixing the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Some of the notable benefits of this procedure include the following:

  • Maximized patient safety
  • It is a streamlined procedure
  • There is a reduced risk of infection during the procedure
  • The operation procedure is not lengthy, reducing your stay at the hospital
  • There is minimal blood loss during the procedure
  • There is little or no post surgery pain because the incision your specialist will make on your back are small-sized

Potential Risks or Complications Associated With Interspinous Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery

While every patient is different, some could experience the following possible complications after interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery:

  • A cosmetically problematic scar
  • Soft tissue infection
  • Wound infection
  • Bruising
  • Spinous process fracture
  • While it is rare, the spinal spacer can dislodge and move out of position

If you detect or experience any of the above complications, you should speak with your specialist immediately for a check-up and treatment. It is also worth noting that interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery is not ideal for every patient. Generally speaking, you would not be an excellent candidate for this procedure if:

  • You have sensory and motor weakness
  • You have bladder and bowel incontinence
  • You have a spine infection and osteoporosis

Tips That Can Fasten the Healing Process After Interspinous Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery

Although your specialist will require you to schedule a follow-up appointment, typically after two weeks, you should be ready to adjust your lifestyle after spinal spacer placement surgery to fasten the healing process. Below are a few tips and restrictions to bear in mind after this procedure to accelerate the healing process and achieve the desired results as soon as possible:

  • Avoid lifting heavy weights and sporting activities
  • Avoid sitting on the floor and sitting in the same position or posture for more than 20 minutes
  • Exercise often as recommended by your specialist or physical therapist to strengthen your back muscles
  • Walk often to keep your body active and prevent the risk of blood clotting
  • Wash the incision site with saline water to avoid bacterial infection

How soon you can resume your regular activities after this procedure depends on how quickly you will heal and the type of activities you do. Typically, the recovery period after this procedure will depend on the following factors:

  • The location and the severity of the spinal stenosis
  • The progress in your post-surgery rehabilitative activities
  • Your general health and whether you have other underlying health issues
  • Experience and skills of your orthopedic surgeon or pain specialist
  • Your commitment to the recommended recovery plan

Most people can return to work four to eight weeks after the interspinous spinal spacer placement surgery if their job is non-strenuous, for example, a receptionist. However, if your job involves lifting heavy items, driving, or other strenuous activities, your pain specialist could require you to be off work for about three months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spinal Stenosis and Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery

People with spinal stenosis will have several questions before embarking on any treatment journey. Below are various questions most patients ask about spinal stenosis and spinal spacer placement surgery:

     1. Can Acupuncture Therapy Help Relieve Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

Yes, acupuncture and physical therapy could work out in your favor to reduce the symptoms of spinal stenosis. That is why your pain specialist will recommend that you explore these non-surgical treatment options before you consider having a spinal spacer placement surgery.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment method that involves the insertion of several hair-thin needles on a patient's acupuncture points on their skin to stimulate the body's natural mechanism of fighting illness. If you have chronic or bothersome pain caused by spinal stenosis, acupuncture can stimulate the body to release pain-relieving hormones like endorphins.

     2. Which Rehabilitative Exercise Can I Perform After Interspinous Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery?

As mentioned in the previous section, rehabilitative exercises can accelerate healing after spinal spacer placement surgery. Your pain specialist will give you a tailor-made low-impact exercise plan to perform while at home and could include the following types of exercises:

  • Swimming
  • Straight leg raises
  • Wall squats
  • Heel slides
  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a stationary bike

Although these exercises can be helpful in your healing process, you cannot perform them immediately after your surgery. Generally, you will need about four weeks after your spinal spacer placement surgery before incorporating these physical exercises into your healing and recovery plan.

     3. How Do I Find a Reliable Pain Specialist for a Spinal Spacer Placement Surgery?

For the best and most effective services you need to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis, you should take your time to find a reliable pain specialist for the job. Here are tips that can help reduce your options to find a reliable pain specialist as soon as possible:

  • Consider the specialist's qualifications and experience
  • Consider the specialist's reputation
  • Consider the specialist's communication style and skills
  • Consider the specialist's location for easy accessibility
  • Consider the specialist's cost of services
  • Consider the type of equipment your prospective specialist has to ease his/her job and provide the best services to his/her clients

Bottom Line

Although spinal spacer placement surgery does not treat spinal stenosis, this outpatient procedure can help alleviate most uncomfortable symptoms caused by this condition, for example, lower back pain and leg numbness.

After three to six months, you should notice an increased range of motion and reduced symptoms of spinal stenosis if you stick to your pain specialist's healing plan and tips.

Find a Los Angeles Spine Doctor Near Me

At LAMIS Institute, we understand how bothersome the symptoms of spinal stenosis and other spinal-related conditions can be. Our pain specialists can offer you effective pain management treatment you seek to keep these uncomfortable symptoms at bay.

If other non-surgical treatment options do not provide the relief you need to live a pain-free life, you could be an excellent candidate for spinal spacer placement surgery. Call us at 310-734-6088 to discuss your pain issue with our understanding and courteous pain specialists in Los Angeles.

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