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YOUR HEALTH: Oh my aching back! This “mild” procedure is helping patients

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LOMA LINDA, California – Just going for a walk once worried Ronnie Turner.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that happens as we age.  It can make it painful to stand and walk.

Turner 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."

Ronnie 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.

Dr. Vance Johnson says there's no guesswork with the procedure.

"We can see while we're operating actually, live while we're operating, the canal open up and the pressure decrease," said Dr. Johnson, Director of Spine Service at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

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 250 to four thousand feet.

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

NEW TECHNOLOGY:   This option removes the lamina, protecting the healthy tissue around it from damage. Dr. Vance Johnson says that the problem with other surgeries is the scars can cause more problems down the road.  This procedure does not require hardware.   Patients recover quickly, as compared to having to recover over months.

Ronnie 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 this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


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