Innovations in Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Spinal stenosis affects up to 500,000 people in the United States, making it a prevalent source of back pain and related symptoms. While treatments for this spinal condition were relatively limited in past decades, patients today have access to remarkable innovations in spinal stenosis treatment. 

Understanding the most cutting-edge treatments for spinal stenosis can help you receive the highest quality care for your symptoms. Read on to learn more!

Minimally-Invasive Spinal Stenosis Treatment Methods

Minimally invasive spinal stenosis treatment methods include:

  • Minimally-invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
  • Decompression with a tubular dilator
  • Spinal endoscopy

Minimally-Invasive Transforaminal Interbody Fusion

Transforaminal interbody fusion, or TLIF, is a form of spinal fusion that may be implemented for spinal stenosis. It involves accessing the spine from the side of the body. This allows for little to no nerve root retraction and reduces the disruption to other surrounding tissues. 

Once the spine is accessed, TLIF involves placing bone graft material between the affected vertebrae. The bone graft gradually fuses the vertebrae into a single bone to prevent instability after spinal decompression. 

Decompression with a Tubular Dilator

A tubular dilator can be used to facilitate minimally invasive spinal surgery. It’s a device that gradually dilates the soft tissues so that the surgeon can gain access to the spine. This eliminates the need to cut through muscle tissue to reach the spine. 

Surgeons may use a tubular dilator and an endoscope in the same procedure to complete minimally invasive spinal surgery. 

Innovations in Spinal Endoscopy

Innovations in spinal endoscopy have revolutionized spinal stenosis treatment over the last several years. 

Spinal endoscopy is a cutting-edge form of minimally invasive spinal surgery. It’s considered the latest advancement in spinal surgery as it can effectively alleviate spinal pain and neurological symptoms with fewer risks and downtime than conventional spinal operations. 

As the name suggests, spinal endoscopy involves the use of an endoscope, a device with a long tube, a light, and a small HD camera at the end of it. This device gives the surgeon a detailed view of the spine throughout the procedure, making it possible to complete the surgery through a very small incision. 

Challenges in spinal endoscopy since its inception over 50 years ago have included the need for adequate visualization and illumination. These challenges have since been addressed with high-definition digital cameras and powerful LED illumination, allowing spinal surgeons to complete spinal decompression procedures with great precision. 

The Steps of Spinal Endoscopy

To start the spinal endoscopy procedure, the surgeon creates a small, 8-millimeter incision over the spine. They then separate the muscles to gain access to the spine. The endoscopic camera sends imaging to a monitor, allowing the surgeon to view the treatment area. Using this view as a guide, the surgeon inserts small instruments through the incision and the path to the spine. 

Next, the surgeon removes tissue that’s impinging on the affected nerves, such as herniated disc material, thickened spinal ligaments, or bone spurs. This process of spinal decompression can effectively alleviate spinal stenosis symptoms. When the decompression procedure is done, the surgeon removes the instruments and the endoscope, then closes the incision using sutures. 

The Benefits of Spinal Endoscopy for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal endoscopy offers many benefits over conventional forms of spinal stenosis, including:

Less Trauma to the Spine and Muscle Tissue

Endoscopic spinal surgery allows the surgeon to gain access to the spine with minimal disruption to the surrounding tissue. This lowers the risk of side effects and complications while speeding up the recovery process. 

Less Recovery Time

With endoscopic spine surgery, patients can return to work after just one to two weeks. This is in comparison to four to six weeks of recovery time before returning to work with conventional spine surgery.

Quicker Return to Normal Activities

Patients are eager to return to their normal activities, including physical activity, after spinal procedures. With endoscopic surgery for spinal stenosis, it takes around six weeks to fully recover, after which you can return to most, if not all, normal activities. Heavy lifting and excessive bending or twisting may be discouraged for longer. 

Less Post-Op Pain

Through less tissue disruption and a smaller incision, spinal endoscopy leads to less post-operative pain than traditional spinal surgery. This can also reduce the need for prescription pain medication, which poses a risk of side effects and dependence. 

What Is the Most Successful Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?

The most successful treatment for spinal stenosis depends on the patient. However, in cases that require surgery, minimally invasive spinal decompression is an effective option. 

Surgical spinal decompression is the only way to cure spinal stenosis by creating more space in the spine. Minimally invasive decompression procedures, like spinal endoscopy, successfully resolve the narrowing of the spine and nerve impingement while reducing tissue damage.

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Successful Non-Surgical Treatments for Spinal Stenosis

Surgery is usually only suggested for spinal stenosis if it causes disruptive symptoms and doesn’t respond to at least six months of non-surgical treatment. Many non-surgical treatments may successfully alleviate spinal stenosis symptoms in some patients, including:

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy, or PT, is one of the most effective non-surgical spinal stenosis. It involves targeted exercises, stretches, and alternative therapies to improve your posture, alleviate inflammation, reduce tension, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. 
  • Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care involves improving the alignment of the spine to reduce inflammation and improve spinal symptoms. Your chiropractor may implement manual therapies and non-surgical decompression for spinal stenosis. 
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Altering your lifestyle to omit high-impact activities that could exacerbate your symptoms may help treat spinal stenosis. Additionally, adopting a nutrient-rich diet, quitting smoking, and shedding excess pounds can support your spinal health. 
  • Pain medications: Pain medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, can temporarily relieve spinal stenosis symptoms. However, medications can’t resolve the root cause of spinal stenosis – they can only lessen its symptoms for a limited period. 
  • Epidural steroid injections: Epidural steroid injections prevent the immune system response at the treatment area, providing powerful relief from inflammation and pain. However, the relief is only temporary, and using these injections excessively can cause tissue atrophy. 

TOPS System – An Innovative Solution for the Treatment of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The TOPS System is an innovative mechanical device used to treat lumbar spinal stenosis. It’s used to replace the bony and soft tissues removed during minimally invasive spinal decompression surgery. The device restores stability while facilitating spinal motion, making it a cutting-edge alternative to spinal fusion. 

The TOPS device re-establishes a controlled range of motion in the spine, allowing for flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. It allows patients to return to their normal activities relatively quickly after the procedure. In fact, most patients can walk around the hospital on the same day as the procedure. 

Having earned a claim for superiority to lumbar fusion from the FDA, the TOPS System is one of today’s leading innovations in lumbar spinal stenosis treatment. In comparison to fusion, it provides a shorter recovery period, less postoperative pain, a lower risk of adjacent segment degeneration, and improved mobility. 

To learn more about the TOPS System for lumbar spinal stenosis, reach out to a qualified physician in your region.