A new hope for back pain sufferers?
Rusty Templeton is typical of Dr. Pauza's failed fusion patients. He had his surgery in 2008, but the pain came back and was agonizing.
"I've kind of damaged the disc above and below my fusion, and of course that fusion disc is also in pretty bad disrepair," said Templeton.
Templeton is given a local anesthetic. The procedure takes about five minutes...there's no incision..no hardware...
Typically, at first, patients feel discomfort. "Some patients even say, 'Gosh, I wish I never had this done,'" said Dr. Pauza. "And then several weeks later, the patients just turn a corner. We tell them that they can expect that there will be one day where they have pain, and the next day, it'll just stop."
Dr. Pauza is hoping for Food and Drug Administration approval of the procedure by 2015, and to make it available to the public shortly thereafter. Phase III clinical trials are underway now at 20 sites around the U.S.
Dr. Pauza has successfully treated more than a thousand patients in his private practice. "We started treating the first patients approximately five or six years ago, and the success rate is approximately 86 percent," he said.
So how did Rusty Templeton do? "My pain before was at least a ten," he said. And two months after the procedure? "It's still around a five, because I have underlying issues. But I can lay down now. I can, you know, walk around. I can drive where I couldn't drive before.
"The pain level I had before the procedure was probably around anywhere from about a six to worse, eight," he said.
Christopher Joseph is a home restorer who was in a car accident. How was his pain two months after the procedure? "Right now, it's at zero."
Dr. Michael DePalma is a spine specialist in Richmond, Va. The North American Spine Society has just published his paper on the latest experimental therapies involving disc restoration.
"Stem cells are something that's being investigated to replenish cells within the disc directly, injecting growth factors, which are proteins, to try to stimulate repair in a disc have also been evaluated," said Dr. DePalma.
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