Spinal Spacer for Stenosis

Hi. I am from Canada. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009. I felt the symptoms as far back as 2005. I am a person who learned to tolerate alot of nagging pain. In 2009 I started my search for relief. The x-ray showed nothing. I was sent to physio. It was a temporary fix for relief as it was causing some form of decompression in my spine. A few months later I was sent to a rheumatologist. He sent me for an MRI. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in the L4-L5 position. This was not his specialty.

I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon for consultation. He suggested I try a nerve block. This was a waste of time. It is a very painful shot of a pain medication they shoot into the affected area. I went back to him a few months later telling him that it worked only for 2 weeks. He advised me to do it again with a higher dose of medication. I knew that meant surgery was my next step. From what I originally knew, this would mean a long and painful recovery where my back would be sliced opened. This was a scary thought.

I went back to him again after a few months. This time I had done some research. The technology in spine surgery was becoming less invasive. The issue that I had was that this type of surgery was relatively new in my province of Ontario. I started contacting alot of the clinics in the USA. The price was around $25,000. In Canada we have universal health care. Most of our health care costs are paid for by the government. Armed with this info I contacted the system that pays our hospitalization and they provided me a list of all hospitals in my major city. I contacted all of them asking them if they did minimal invasive spinal surgery. Two hospitals informed me that they did. What a relief to know that I would not have to go to the USA and spend alot of money.

I went back to the orthopedic surgeon telling him that I wanted to go in this direction. He advised me that it didn't exist in the city. In fact he started putting it down that he had no interest in learning this new technology. He did indicate that it was tried here a few years ago and that the doctors were blotching up the surgeries. They were afraid of getting sued, so they ran to the USA. I had to inform him that a local hospital was doing this type of procedure. He was kind of enough to order me a newer dated MRI.

In July 2010 I requested an appointment with the new neurosurgeon. The issue was that the waiting period would be 2 years. I said I would wait. My family physician pulled a few strings and got me in for July 2011. I could not believe the knowledge he had in the new technology. He suggested that I install a spacer to relieve the sciatic nerve with laminectomy. After some delays I was finally operated on November 30, 2011. I woke up next morning with no pain in my legs for the first time in 5 years. The best thing was that I was walking with some pain less then 24 hours after surgery. I am still in recovery but I am so happy it turned out better then expected.

My opinion to you all reading this is to do your homework and research. FYI: This spacer was only approved in the USA in February 2010. 25,000 procedures have been done worldwide. – Ron



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