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," Cheryl Dote told Ivanhoe.
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 said.
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," Richard Tallarico, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon at Upstate Medical University said.
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 is 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," Dr. Tallarico 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," Dr. Tallarico said.
Cheryl had the Spacer put in and says the relief she feels changed her life.
"It was 100 percent better," Cheryl said. "It's still 100 percent better."
Now, her focus is on her kids, instead of her pain. The Spacer is still under study, and the trial is open to patients across the country. If study results hold up, doctors hope this will get FDA approval and be available to the masses within three years.