Inventing a relief for back pain
By BRIAN J. SULLIVAN, M.D., Neurosurgeon
Back problems are an enormous medical issue in our society. Too often, people endure pain for years before they find the right medical team and treatment plan.
At MBSP, we always attempt our best and most aggressive nonsurgical treatments first. No one wants to take on the risks of surgery if they don’t have to. But for patients with spinal stenosis who have exhausted all non-surgical options, there’s a device called Coflex® that may be the best solution for them.
HOW COFLEX WORKS
The Coflex device can be slipped in behind the open spinal canal and can hold any pressure off of the nerves. Because there is flexibility built into the device, it helps to support the arthritic joints and attempts to avoid any further surgery. It’s far less invasive than a major spinal fusion so patients are able to recover more quickly and get back to their ‘regularly scheduled’ lives.
‘TRULY AMAZING SURGERY’
A Coflex success story can be found in my patient, Joseph Borkoski who suffered from back pain for two years and was walking slumped over. He tried physical therapy, stretching – nothing worked. I performed the Coflex surgery on him and he said it’s been “truly amazing. It’s been [two years] since my surgery, and I even forget I had the pain! I’m completely pain-free now and can get back to just living my life without worrying about what’s going to cause me pain.”
Comments like that are what make my job unbelievably rewarding — To relieve a patient of his pain and enable him to return to his life is what we at MBSP always strive for.
WHY COFLEX IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SURGICAL OPTIONS
Neurosurgeons have long sought a way to keep the spinal canal open without resorting to fusion surgery. Before Coflex, neurosurgeons’ options were limited to using a fusion procedure involving titanium pedicle screws and rods. The Coflex surgery provides a less invasive yet prolonged solution to those suffering from significant spinal canal stenosis due to degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, facet arthritis, facet cysts or spondylolisthesis.
AFTER COFLEX SURGERY
After Coflex surgery, MBSP has seen that patients are generally able to return to most activities including golfing, biking, and even running. The patients who seemed to do the best are ones who are able to maintain a healthy bodyweight and who can focus on strong, flexible muscles around the spine and to obtain a strong ‘core.’ (In many cases, it’s middle-aged-to-older patients who develop spinal stenosis severe enough to require the Coflex.)
Take James Keedy, for example. He came in to see me because his back pain was limiting him in just about everything he did. I recommended the Coflex surgery to him and the results have been tremendous. Said James, “I’m not in pain anymore! I was splitting firewood all day long the other day – I never would have attempted that before the surgery.”
REMOVAL OR REPLACEMENT IS RARE
Removal or replacement of the Coflex device is very rare, according to the FDA, and our experience at MBSP is similar. While any mechanical device can fail, the Coflex is engineered to last. The FDA trial of nearly 500 patients had an immediate clinical success rate around 83%. Our experience at MBSP thus far has been even higher than that.
It is the goal of both the patient and the surgeon to provide a ‘one and done’ solution. If you are an appropriate patient for Coflex, we at MBSP are confident we can help you live the life you were meant to live – a pain-free one.