Medical Minute 3-14: Relieving Back Pain

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

As a full-time nurse with five children, Cheryl Dote spends a lot of time on her feet. For the last four years, she's done that with debilitating back and leg pain.

"I would be in tears some nights," she said.

She tried physical therapy, pain relievers and pain injections, but the pain always won.

"I actually thought I was going to end up in a wheelchair," Cheryl Dote explained.

Like more than a million other Americans, she has lumbar spinal stenosis. In her search for help, she found Upstate Medical University Doctor Richard Tallarico.

"In the most aggressive forms, patients can't stand to walk for even a few minutes, so it's very functionally disabling," said Richard Tallarico, M.D., Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at Upstate Medical University.

Standing or walking compresses the spine and pinches the nerves, causing pain. Patients only get relief when they're sitting or stooped over. Now, Doctor Tallarico and a team of doctors are studying the superion spacer to relieve the pain.

"Compared to what we've had in the past, this is a much easier way to approach this from both the surgeon and the patient perspective," the doctor said.

First, surgeons make a half-inch incision in the back. The spacer is inserted where it's needed and acts like a wedge, which permanently spreads open the spinal canal.

"It allows the spine to remain in a flexed position, mimicking the sitting position."

Cheryl had the spacer put in and says the relief she feels changed her life.

"It was 100 percent better. It's still 100 percent better."

Now, her focus is on her kids, instead of her pain.

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  • by Gene Location: Fresno, California on Apr 3, 2011 at 09:06 AM
    Is there anyway I can email or chat with Cheryl? Saw her on the news regarding her back pain surgery? I have spinal stenosis too and really need to information on it. Thank you, Gene
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