There is a new way to treat a common form of back pain and unlike surgery, it has back pain patients going home from the hospital the same day. Patients like Kathie Laughary, who needed to fix a slipped disc in her lower back. A bulge in her disc was rubbing against spinal nerves bringing constant pain. Physical therapy and medication were not working for her, so instead of surgery, Kathy opted for something called Nucleoplasty. That means a special needle was inserted into her back. One that is designed to shrink tissue in the middle of her disc, causing the bulge to draw back, away from the nerve.
"The success rate is approximately 79%. But they still can go on to have back surgery if Nucleoplasty fails," says Dr. Kenneth Branton, an Anesthesiologist.
"This is my first day back at work and I feel fantastic," says Kathie.
Many previous attempts at needle surgery used chemicals or heat to burn away the bulge, but this needle is different. Nucleoplasty dissolves Kathie's disc tissue with low temperature radio waves. Using just a local anesthetic, doctor Branton makes six channels in the center of Kathie's disc. She is awake during the procedure so she can feel if the needle gets too close to her spinal nerve, and let Dr. Branton know, so he won't damage it. In about a half an hour, it is over. A simple bandage covers the needle mark. There will be no scar and Kathie will go home the same day.
Less than one week later, Kathie is back on the job. She's still got her back-friendly chairs and cushions, but they are purely for posture now. The pains in her hip and leg are gone, and NewsChannel 11's HealthWise team called around and it is available locally at Pain Management Centers. Right now, Nucleoplasty is being used for only one type of slipped disc, called a 'contained herniated disc.
For more information, (click here). This is done here in Lubbock by Doctor Ralph Menard, M.D., Pain Management Specialist at the Pain Management Center at 4102 24th Street Suite 507. You can reach Dr. Menard at 797-4596 and Dr. Cubty at Covenant 725-1011.