FitBits can help fight lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that happens as we age, sometimes making it painful to stand and walk.

Now, doctors are using Vertos Medical's minimally invasive "MILD" procedure to treat patients and a brand new clinical trial is using popular technology to track improvement in mobility.

Just walking used to worry Ronnie Turner. He says numbness and pain from his lumbar spinal stenosis restricted his usually active lifestyle by 50%.

"I wanted help, and I wanted to be where I could do things with my grandkids and my son," said Turner.

Turner had the MILD procedure. His doctor used contrast to find the narrowing, then through a tiny incision, removed small pieces of bone and ligament. A fluoroscope showed when the canal was open.

Vance Johnson, MD, director spine service at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Murrieta Campus says there's no guesswork with the MILD procedure.

Dr. Johnson says, "We can see while we're operating actually, live while we're operating, the canal opens up and the pressure decreases."

A band aid covered the incision. Ronnie was back to activity the next day.

Now, Vertos Medical is running a study measuring real outcomes of its mild procedure, using Fit Bits. The face is covered, so patients don't know how they're doing during checks at six, 12 and 24 months.

But a previous study showed that standing time increased from eight to 56 minutes and walking distance from 300 to 4,000 feet.

Eric Wichems, President and CEO of Vertos Medical said, "What we expect to see is a true improvement in the quality of life of these patients, and that's new data."

Turner says returning to fishing is proof enough for him: "I don't dread the opportunity to go and do things. Those days are over. I'll try anything!"

The motion study trial will also track opioid usage before and after the MILD procedure. It's a 20 center randomized, controlled study that should have results in about a year and a half. If you're interested in enrolling, go to http://www.mildprocedure.com/motion-study.html
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