A new procedure for people dealing with lower back and leg pain caused by spinal stenosis is being used by an orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis Hospital.
The surgeon is using a new device called the I-O Flex, and makes more room for the nerves without the need for major surgery and a long recovery time.
Stan Valinski, of Burlington, said he has been dealing with back and leg pain for 30 years.
"I was in severe pain just standing," he said. "It was in both my legs. I traveled by wheelchair. It was embarrassing."
Valinski is no stranger to back surgery, he said, and he has had previous operations and fusions.
He just didn't want to go through the pain all over again.
"I just kept putting it off," he said. "I was fearing the worst."
But things changed when he met Dr. David Kruger, who was using the I-O Flex to perform back surgeries.
"A patient who would benefit from the I-O Flex is someone with spinal stenosis with leg pain," he said. "Their nerves are pinched in the back. Typically, when they sit or stand they have leg pain, leg fatigue and their legs feel heavy."
The I-O Flex essentially makes extra room for the nerves by shaving down bone and soft tissue that's putting pressure on the nerves.
"We make an incision and expose the spine with a very small incision to get into the spine where the nerves are so we have to do a lamonotomy which is a small hole in the bone of the spine and once we're inside the spine we can pass these tools across where the nerves travel and free up the nerves," Kruger said.
Kruger said with the I-O Flex recovery time is minimal compared to a traditional surgery that includes bone fusions, screws, one grafting and a long recovery.
"It changed my whole life," Valinski said. "I was afraid to stand. It made me not want to go out at all. You want to stay in the comfort of your little chair at home and not do anything, but it changed that whole equation. Once I got my legs back I was like, 'let's go. Lets do this.'"
Traditional back surgery recovery time is anywhere from two to six weeks, but with the I-O Flex, patients walk out the very same day.
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