According to the American Chiropractic Association 8 out of every 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Chronic back pain can result in significant time out of work, not to mention taking you away from family activities.
The level of pain and severity of the problem will obviously vary from person to person. The good news is most back pain sufferers can find relief by taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by their primary care physician. If it is more persistent it may require seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor. If those don’t work and the pain becomes too great, it is time to see a surgeon. You should understand that most people will not need surgery to get them back on their feet. But a surgeon has several options at their disposal to help.
To understand the cause of back pain it is important to know how the spine is created. The spine is a series of building blocks that run from the tail to the base of the skull. There are discs between these blocks to help them move painlessly. If the building blocks slip in front of each other and no longer move in the right way, or the disk is injured and can’t be repaired, surgery can be used to bring the building blocks back together.
One of the top causes of back pain is instability within the spine. This condition can result from degradation which occurs naturally with age or trauma such as a back injury. Treatment options for spinal instability range from minimally invasive options, like medication and physical therapy, to more invasive options such as surgery. There are over 400,000 spinal implant surgeries performed each year in the United States. Spinal fusion is a common surgical approach to treating spinal instability.
The purpose of spinal fusion surgery is to permanently connect two or more vertebrae, eliminating motion between them. Surgeons will often use surgical implants such as screws, rods or small devices called “interbody cages” and place them between the two vertebrae. The goal for a successful spinal fusion is to enable the bone to grow through and around the implant over time, creating a strong fusion that will stabilize the spine and relieve pain.
Plastics or ‘PEEK’ (Polyether ether ketone), are the most commonly used materials today. But plastics and titanium are too smooth at the micro and cellular levels. These do not elicit a strong osteogenic (bone forming) response and primarily act only as a spacer. They are too smooth to promote growth and flatten cells, which prohibits the formation of bone cells and can cause inflammation, which impedes the healing process.
Titan Spine is a new company that has developed nanotechnology which creates a unique surface designed to create an enhanced osteogenic environment due to its proprietary blend of textures at the macro, micro and cellular levels.
New materials like those offered by Titan Spine allow patients to get back to normal activity faster.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain, see your primary care physician and ask if you should see a spinal surgeon. Being pain free can be in your future.