Thursday, December 31, 2009
Medical Reports: Back Pain
Back pain can be debilitating for so many people. Physical therapy and meds can help some, but for those whose pain persists there's a new surgery that uses only one incision to ease the discomfort. 7's Diana Diaz has the story in tonight's Healthcast.
WSVN -- Pam Pohlar is at home in the kitchen, but it's also where a 10-year battle with back pain began.
Pam Pohlar: "The more I was on my feet, the more I noticed it was hurting more and more."
Some days she couldn't even leave her house.
Pam Pohlar: "Lower part of my back, straight across. I just wanted to sit and cry. It felt so bad. There were days I felt 90, 95-years-old."
She took her health into her own hands and lost 45 pounds, but it didn't ease the pain.
Then, she found out she was a candidate for a new lower back procedure that avoids cutting through any muscle. Surgeons make one small incision in the back then fuse two levels of the spine together, relieving pressure on the nerves.
Dr. Jim Billys: "Typically, to fix a two-level problem, you have to make two different approaches to fix both levels, and this allows us to do it through one incision. We're able to treat both of these at one time."
Through the same incision, surgeons secure the area with small screws and rods. Using only one incision avoids the risk of injury to important blood vessels and no major scarring. Most patients go home the same day.
Dr. Jim Billys: "Most people can have a 70 to 80 percent improvement in their activities of daily living."
A year after surgery, Pam calls her progress amazing.
Pam Pohlar: "I feel 95 percent normal now."
She's back on her feet and keeping up.
Pam Pohlar: "I went to Disney World and walked three days straight. I had no pain whatsoever."
Putting an end to years of pain.
Diana Diaz: "Dr. Billys says the complication rate is under one percent."