New surgery replaces lumbar disc

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For the first time in 10 years, people with chronic back pain now have a new option to get them back on their feet. (KFSN)

For the first time in 10 years, people with chronic back pain now have a new option to get them back on their feet.

The FDA recently approved the newest generation of artificial lumbar discs and some patients who've gotten the implants say the results are life-changing.

When you see Jorge Padron working out, it's hard to believe he ever had a back problem.

Padron told Ivanhoe, "When I would walk even a little hard, the pain was just unbearable."

He had a deteriorated disc. Doctors wanted to fuse his spine, which would have caused stiffness and a lack of mobility.

"I just thought to myself there's got to be a better solution than fusion," said Padron.

He went to see Rolando Garcia, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Orthopedic Care Center in Miami, Florida. Dr. Garcia developed the ACTIV-L artificial lumbar disc. The implant is made of chromium endplates that attach to the patient's vertebrae. The disc is the first to also use polyethylene, or plastic plates, to allow for a better fit.

"We're talking about a new generation implant that tries to better mimic or reproduce the movement of the spine when it's normal," explained Dr. Garcia.

Good candidates for transplant are people with back pain that's lasted at least several months that does not respond to non-surgical treatment and those who don't have osteoporosis.

"Generally speaking, the recovery period for this replacement is faster than with traditional fusion," Dr. Garcia told Ivanhoe.

Most artificial lumbar disc patients spend just one night in the hospital and are fully recovered after six weeks. "No pain, full range of motion, running, jumping, hand standing, lifting like nothing ever happened," said Padron.

Dr. Garcia said surgeons place the insert through the front of the spine, and not the back, sparing muscles from being cut and also easing recovery.
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