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Anatomy-Conserving Treatment for Low Back and Leg Pain

Senior Couple Biking

If you have been experiencing low back or leg pain that has not responded positively to conservative treatments (exercise, physical therapy, massage, pain medications, etc.), you may be considering surgery. Millions of people1 around the world undergo spinal operations every year as a result of debilitating back and leg pain. Historically these procedures were very intrusive, but Spineology is changing the way spine surgery is done with our focus on anatomy-conserving surgery. 

Anatomy-conserving surgery strives to enable surgeons to treat a broad array of conditions with minimal disruption to bone, nerve, and muscle tissue. This can result in a short hospital stay—potentially even same-day surgery—and a quick return to activities. Our mission is to transform spine surgery by providing innovative, anatomy-conserving technologies for surgeons and their patients.

Causes of Low Back and Leg Pain

Your spine is made up of a series of bones (vertebrae) separated by intervertebral discs. The discs connect the vertebrae and allow them to move while also acting as shock absorbers for the spine. 

One common cause of low back and leg pain is degenerative disc disease (DDD).2 DDD is a natural part of the aging process in which the disc begins to lose height and flexibility. The outer layer (annulus fibrosus) of the disc can tear and cause the gel-like inner core (nucleus pulposus) to bulge or herniate and compress nerves and/or the spinal cord. This can cause pain, numbness, weakness, and/or tingling in the low back and/or legs.

Disc anatomy and abnormalities

Spondylolisthesis

Degenerative disc disease can also lead to listhesis, which occurs when one vertebra slips forward (spondylolisthesis3) or backward (retrolisthesis) relative to the vertebra directly below it. This instability is typically caused by degenerative changes but can also be caused by stress fractures, birth defects, and, in some cases, trauma or tumors.

Treatment Options

In most cases, your doctor will use a conservative (non-surgical) approach to treat your symptoms. Conservative treatments can include rest, heat, ice, medication, injections, and physical therapy. If your symptoms persist after conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended. Surgery may also be recommended for specific spinal conditions, such as narrowing of the spinal canal or a herniated disc that has not responded to other treatment.

Spine Surgery Options

There are many different types of spine surgery. Ultimately, your surgeon will determine which procedure is the best option for you. One common type of spine surgery is lumbar interbody fusion, which involves removing the disc material and replacing it with an implant. The implant restores the disc space to its normal height and provides support and stability while the spine heals. In addition to the implant—which can be made of metal, bone, or plastic—most surgeons will also place screws and rods in the spine to provide additional stability during the healing process. Lumbar interbody fusion surgery can be performed from the front (anterior), the back (posterior), or the side (lateral). Your surgeon will recommend a surgical approach based on your specific condition and anatomy.

Surgical approaches showing incision locations

Surgical Options

Depending on your condition, your surgeon may choose an open surgery or a minimally invasive surgery (MIS).

Open spine surgery incision illustrationOpen Surgery is a more traditional approach during which the surgeon uses an incision large enough to directly view and access your spine to treat your condition. Open spine surgery generally involves muscle and other soft tissue disruption, and removal of bone, which can make your procedure take longer and result in a hospital stay of up to a week.4 In some cases, an open procedure may be required to properly address your spinal condition. 

Minimally invasive spine surgery incision illustrationMinimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) seeks to conserve your anatomy and reduce the trauma to your muscles, soft tissues, and bones. The surgeon will make a small incision and work through a narrow channel to treat your condition. MIS surgeries tend to be shorter in duration compared to open surgeries. Spineology offers one of the most advanced MIS approaches with its anatomy-conserving Duo Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Since muscle disruption is minimized and bony anatomy is preserved, your recovery may be faster,4 and you may be able to leave the hospital sooner than after an open surgery.

 

Low back and leg pain can be a significant burden and present you with many choices. Talk to your doctor about your specific condition and the potential treatment options that might be available to you. Read more about Spineology's anatomy-conserving lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) procedure:

Link to Duo Patient LLIF page

 


Patient Resources:

1. Prevalence of Low Back Pain: https://www.boneandjointburden.org/docs/By%20The%20Numbers%20-%20Back%20Pain.pdf

2. Degenerative Disc Disease: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/degenerative-disk-disease-overview#1 

3. Spondylolisthesis: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/pain-management-spondylolisthesis

4. Jaikumar S, Kim DH, Kam AC, History of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. Neurosurgery. 2002;51(2):1-14. doi.10.1097/00006123-200211002-00003. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12234425/