Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal and can in turn cause impingement of the spinal cord leading to a variety of symptoms including but not limited to:
- Back pain
- Burning pain in the buttocks and down the bilateral lower extremities
- Numbness, tingling, cramping, and weakness of the legs
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
Patients with moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis will often have difficulty standing for long periods or walking short distances due to associated pain, impacting the ability to perform daily tasks and activities. LSS can also be caused by bulging discs or hypertrophy (enlargement) of the ligamentum flavum. Current treatment for LSS includes conservative options (i.e. physical therapy, medication, and epidural steroid injection) and spine surgery for severe cases.
What is the MILD procedure and its benefits?
The MILD (minimally invasive lumbar decompression) procedure is an alternative form of treatment for patients that have not responded well to conservative treatment and can’t/won’t go through spine surgery. The procedure takes about one hour and is performed under complete sedation via a 1-cm incision under X-ray guidance. A sculpting tool is used which glides through a portal the size of a pen cap, allowing one to safely scrape out the ligament and widen the spinal canal to reduce any nerve compression. Patients are recommended to maintain a regular exercise and stretching routine or a course of physical therapy post procedure to maximize benefits. Patients can expect improvements in pain and mobility around the six-week mark allowing one to return to a more normal lifestyle while enjoying daily activities without difficulty.
Similar to epidural steroid injections, there is a rare chance of bleeding, infection, and damage to nearby structures. It is required that patients coordinate with prescribing doctors to safely come off any blood thinners prior to the procedure.