Does spinal stenosis make it painful for you to stand or walk for more than a few minutes? We’d like to tell you about a safe and effective treatment option called MILD, or minimally invasive lumbar decompression, offered by our pain management specialist Dr. Lehn.
What is spinal stenosis?
Inside the spine is a hollow channel called the spinal canal that contains the spinal cord and nerves. Spinal stenosis occurs when the channel narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. In addition to pain, symptoms may also include weakness, numbness, and cramping in the lower back and legs. It’s most often caused by the normal wear and tear that comes with aging, but factors like arthritis and protruded discs can also lead to spinal stenosis.
How is it treated?
Spinal stenosis is often a progressing problem and it is difficult to predict if a patient will ultimately return to normal once symptoms begin. Many patients will benefit from treatments like physical therapy or steroid injections but the duration of benefit varies patient to patient. Some people manage the problem with minimal treatment while others need surgical decompression to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. Understandably, many patients are hesitant to undergo invasive surgery, and may be worried about a hospital stay and a lengthy recovery time.
What is MILD?
The MILD procedure for spinal stenosis is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional spinal surgery that has provided immediate relief and life-changing results for many patients. Guided by x-ray, Dr. Lehn inserts a spinal decompression device through a tiny incision in the back, using it to remove a portion of the tissue that’s pressing on the spinal nerves. The procedure takes less than an hour and, unlike traditional surgery, MILD is performed with local anesthesia and sedation, so you can go home the same day. Patients who undergo MILD typically experience minimal pain and much faster recovery times than with traditional surgery.
We sat down for a Q&A with Atlantic Orthopaedics’ Pain Management Specialist Dr. Lehn:
Q: How does this new procedure benefit your patients?
A: The MILD procedure is specifically for people with spinal stenosis diagnosed with a MRI leading to Neurogenic Claudication. Spinal stenosis is another word for a kink or tightening around the spinal nerves and Neurogenic claudication is pain that is present with standing or walking that improves with sitting. The goal of the procedure is to remove a portion of the tissue that is causing the spinal compression with a special tool using x-ray guidance. Once the patient heals they should expect a great increase in their ability to walk and stand!
- Almost immediate recovery from the procedure; full benefit takes 3-4 weeks.
- 1 cm incision, no implants.
- Minimal sedation for 30-45 minutes; walking home same day.
- This procedure does not inhibit future surgery from being done.
- 5-year studies show sustained relief of pain from this procedure.
Q: Do you have a recent patient success story you can share with us?
A: I just had a follow up with a 76 year old, male patient who is doing great! He was on the fence on whether he should do invasive surgery or the MILD. The patient had pain down both legs after standing and walking for just a short time.
His legs would also give out, and he had a tough time carrying things while walking. He was referred by Dr. Sutherland as he was very anxious about having a large surgical procedure so the MILD seemed like a great solution.
He is now walking a mile with minimal pain!
Q: Who is a good candidate for the Minimally Invasive Laminectomy (MILD) Procedure?
A: Patients who have trouble standing or walking, as long as the pain improves when they sit or lean forward on a shopping cart are good candidates for this procedure.
Q: What is the ideal age range for this procedure?
A: Any age. It is especially good for patients who do not consider themselves candidates for more invasive spinal surgery.
You might be a good candidate if:
1. You have Spinal stenosis confirmed by MRI.
2. You have difficulty standing and walking (but not pain lying down or sitting–that is something else.)
3. You’ve had epidurals that work but are not long lasting.
Q: Where do you perform the MILD procedure?
A: The procedure is performed in a surgery center. I currently perform the procedure at our state-of-the-art surgery center, NECOS.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like patients to know about this new procedure?
A. It is very safe, with a rapid recovery, and a great option for people anxious about having invasive surgery. For the right patient it can be life changing!
If you have Spinal Stenosis and think you may be a good candidate for the MILD procedure, we invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lehn for an evaluation. Why wait to get back to doing the things you love?