A study published earlier this year showed that back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and millions of Americans are suffering from chronic back and neck pain at any given time. Hoping to provide relief for this pressing concern, one doctor has introduced a rare new procedure in Utah.
Spinal surgeon Armen Khachatryan helped to pioneer the procedure, an artificial disc implantation that can replace the spinal fusion surgery usually used in such cases.
“With disc replacement, our goal is not to fuse. Our goal is to preserve motion, so we encourage our patients to start moving their neck as quickly as possible,” Khachatryan explained.
This means that patients don’t need to spend a long post-surgery recovery period immobilized in a neck collar. Instead, patients can go home the same day or the morning after the surgery is performed.
The first person in Utah to receive the surgery, Clayton Reynolds, says that it has eliminated pain that was previously unbearable. “It got to the point where not only [was] the pain in my neck, it was affecting my hands and my arms,” he told a local Fox station Nov. 29. “Now, I feel just like the day I was 21. My neck feels great, I have no more pain.”
The new surgery has been approved by the FDA.
Back Health in the U.S.
Each year, approximately two million Americans suffer injuries requiring hospitalization, but accidents and trauma are only one cause of back problems.
Chronic pain can also be brought on — or lessened — by lifestyle factors.
The key, doctors say, is to make lifestyle changes before surgical intervention is the only option.
In one recent article, Dr. Patrick Roth, chair of neurosurgery as Hackensack University Medical Center, described the importance of changing the view of back pain from something that’s “part of life to an injury requiring treatment.”
The primary concern for many patients with mild but persistent back pain, Roth says, is taking a proactive stance instead of waiting for products that promise relief. He recommends exercising with kettlebells and strengthening core muscles, in particular.
“Looking for an ergonomic overhaul to do the job for you,” he writes, “will leave you disappointed.”