Study Seeks to Aid Chronic Back Pain Sufferers

A new study is underway seeking to treat chronic back pain and measuring the benefits of using surgically implanted interspinous spacers.

Ernest Mrazik was not a happy camper for quite some time. His chronic back pain interfered with his life and made simple tasks daunting and arduous.

"As I got out of the car, I would hold onto the car door and wait for the sensation to pass. The brain was telling my legs to move but it was like I was paralyzed; they wouldn't move," he explained.

Mrazik found relief from the pain and paralyzing effects after participating in a study at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut, where Dr. Peter Whang diagnosed him with spinal stenosis.

"Spinal stenosis is basically pressure on the nerves," Dr. Whang explained. "What happens is that basically there's less room available for the nerves and that nerve compression cause symptoms of pain, numbness, shooting down the legs."

Dr. Whang is the lead surgeon of this study, which measures the benefits of the latest two interspinous spacers intended to alleviate chronic pain in the back.

"Basically what these implants are designed to do are to fit between the bones of the spine like this, to open up the canal, to give the nerves more space here," Dr. Whang said. "Once we know the implant is in place, we turn the screw and the wings of this implant will deploy to open up the space and hold the implant in place.”

On Mrazik’s procedure, Dr. Whang said that Mrazik was given a minimal-invasive surgery and a smaller device. The surgeon began the procedure with a small incision, using x-ray guidance to implant the spacers.

The results are promising: Mrazik can now move and stretch more easily without fear of pain.

“Well now I can bend down and touch my toes, twist and I can go back to playing golf without pain again,” Mrazik said happily.

"Any pain, numbness, shooting down your legs at this point?" Dr. Whang asked.

"No, the pain is gone, long gone," Ernest said.

The ideal candidate for this study is someone suffering from symptoms similar to what Mrazik had, or someone who receives some alleviation from the discomfort of back pain by sitting or leaning forward. If you or someone you know would like to participate in the study, please call 888-978-8391.

Yale-New Haven Hospital is the only hospital in Connecticut offering a clinical trial aiming to help back pain sufferers.

Source: News 8