Treatment Options

Treatment of your back and/or leg pain depends on the history and severity of the pain, as well as on test results that identify the source of the pain. In most cases, back pain resolves on its own in a couple of weeks.

Your doctor may prescribe conservative treatment options such as rest, heat, medication, physical therapy, and/or cortisone injections. Since back pain can differ from one person to the next, it is important that you speak with your doctor about the best treatment options for you.

Your doctor may suggest surgery if your symptoms are worsening and a spinal condition has been diagnosed—such as degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis.

Spinal Fusion

What is a spinal fusion? During this surgical procedure, the degenerative disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft allowing the 2 vertebrae to fuse together. The fusion restricts movement that is causing pain. Most of the time, posterior stabilization implants (such as pedicle screws and rods or spinous process plates) are used as an internal brace while bony fusion occurs.

There are many approaches to spinal fusion, from the traditional anterior (front) or posterior (back) approaches—to the modern, minimally invasive, lateral (from the side) approach. The lateral approach is gaining acceptance among surgeons and patients due to its clinical benefits. Accessing the spine from the side may provide less tissue disruption, shorter operating time, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, and quicker patient recovery.

MIS Fusion

In recent years, technological advancements have allowed more spinal conditions to be treated with minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques. Minimally invasive spine surgery continues to grow, and most surgeries today can be performed with some aspect of minimally invasive surgery. In this type of procedure, surgeons use specialized instruments and implants through small incisions instead of large implants that require open, longer incisions.

Some minimally invasive surgical techniques approach the spine from the side rather than from the posterior, completely avoiding the sensitive back muscles.   Preventing unnecessary damage to the muscle surrounding the spine may result in less pain after surgery and a faster recovery.

The goals of minimally invasive spine surgery are the same as those of traditional spine surgery, but with many potential added benefits.

  • Smaller incision
  • Less trauma to healthy tissue
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter operative time
  • Decreased risk of postoperative infections
  • Quicker recovery time

It is important to talk to your doctor about the best way to treat your back and/or leg pain. Your surgeon will decide if minimally invasive spine surgery is the right choice for your condition. In cases of severe spinal degeneration, traditional lumbar fusion may be the only appropriate option.

Posterior Stabilization Implants

During spinal fusion procedures, posterior stabilization implants are often used as an internal brace to prevent motion while bony fusion occurs. Traditional pedicle screws and rods are considered the gold standard for posterior stabilization implants.

These implants are effective at immobilizing the spine so a bony fusion can occur, but require wide dissection to normal, healthy tissue for insertion. Through a 5-6 inch posterior incision, the surgeon dissects and retracts delicate back muscles in order to access the spine. Although this type of manipulation is necessary for traditional pedicle screw insertion, it can lead to pain and desensitization of the back muscles and a long recovery time.

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Traditional Pedicle Screws and Rods
Open Posterior Approach

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Spinous Process Plates
Open Posterior Approach

Spinous process plates were developed as a less invasive alternative to pedicle screws and rods. These devices are comparable to traditional pedicle screws at bracing the spine, but can be implanted through a smaller incision. Spinous process plates attach to the spinous processes, the bony projections of the spine that are closest to the skin and furthest away from the delicate neural structures.

Although spinous process plates are considered a less-invasive alternative to traditional pedicle screws and rods, an open incision—along with the dissection and retraction of healthy tissue—is still required in order to secure them to the spine.

To improve upon existing spinous process plate technology, the MinutemanG3 device was developed as a minimally invasive stabilization implant that is implanted laterally (from the side) through a small 1-inch incision. The minimally invasive lateral approach to implant the MinutemanG3 was designed to treat disorders of the spine with the least amount of tissue disruption, which may result in less pain and a faster patient recovery.

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MinutemanG3
Lateral MIS Approach