At St. Charles Spine Institute, our goal is to give relief to patients who experience back pain and debility – from whatever cause – in the most effective manner possible. This effort means that we look at the vast array of different spinal problems that our patients present, and try to address their conditions with the best treatments available.
Over the last several years, tremendous strides have been made in the medical field that allows us to do some amazing things for our spinal patients that would have been all but possible just a few decades ago. These innovations have helped us to provide our patients with long-term relief from pain while remedying, as much as possible through medical means, the spinal damage that they have suffered.
In applying these remedies, we try to adhere to some basic principles. When possible, we use minimally invasive surgical techniques to reduce the physical trauma associated with surgery, which can help reduce recovery times and get our patients back on their feet and able to resume their daily activities in record time. We strive to make sure that whatever remedy we utilize will provide long-term benefits to our patients. We also aim to use methods that preserve or restore maximum mobility, so that, once our patients have recovered from surgery, they will be able to function almost as if they had never experienced any serious spinal damage or injury.
St. Charles Spine Institute is pleased to announce that we will soon be able to offer a new prosthetic device that we believe will meet all of these criteria to an extent not available before for our patients who need lumbar disc replacement surgery.
Viscoelastic Lumbar Disc Replacement
Currently undergoing the FDA approval process is a viscoelastic lumbar disc prosthetic produced by AxioMed. We hope that this will provide maximum benefits to our patients who suffer from damaged lumbar discs.
Between each vertebra are discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. These discs give you the ability to bend and twist your back, from your cervical spine in the neck down to your lumbar spine near your tailbone.
Natural discs are composed of an outer ring of fibrous cartilage, with a more gel-like interior material, called the nucleus pulposus. This combination of materials has the right amount of strength and rigidity to support all the weight placed on the spine, while still providing sufficient “squishiness” to enable fluid movement. When discs become damaged – through traumatic injury, normal physical wear and tear, age, or other problems – the part of the spine where the damaged disc lies won’t function normally. Nerves in the spine will get pinched, and, if the damage is severe enough, the bone may grate upon bone. Either, or both, of these conditions, will cause severe pain and can impact overall stability.
There exist, already, surgical methods of addressing this damage, including disc replacement. Current prosthetic discs are made up of metal and plastic and are designed to give as much mobility to the patient as possible. But the new prosthetic disc developed by AxioMed is made using a viscoelastic material which, it is projected, will provide patients with a mix of support and flexibility compared to a natural disc, meaning that this device will enable patients to retain or restore full mobility.
The term “viscoelastic” means that the material used in the prosthetic disc has characteristics of both a fluid and a solid. The term “viscous” refers to a fluid’s resistance to flow. A simple illustration is oil, which does not flow well when cold, but flows more freely when it is heated up. The term “elastic” refers to a material’s ability to resist being deformed – it is “elastic” because it returns to its original shape. Thus, the material used in the new disc is designed to change shape easily when required by movement in the spine but continually revert to its original shape without degradation, enabling it to support the weight of the spine.
This new innovation, we hope, will revolutionize disc replacement in that it will allow for patient mobility virtually identical to a natural disc.
Exclusive to St. Charles Spine Institute
St. Charles Spine Institute is excited that it will be one of the first spinal surgical units that will have the opportunity to offer AxioMed’s viscoelastic disc to its patients.
If you have back pain that cannot be relieved by non-surgical conventional methods such as painkillers or physical therapy, it may be time to address your pain through more aggressive methods. For a consultation with one of our spine specialists to diagnose your condition and find out what we can offer, contact St. Charles Spine Institute today.