Easy Back Pain Fix

January 9, 2008 1:10:40 PM PST
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. It's more of a degenerative condition than a true disease. Aging is the most common cause of DDD. As the body gets older, spinal discs tend to dehydrate, causing them to lose their shock-absorbing ability. This process, combined with decreased spinal flexibility and minimal blood supply, can make DDD a problem. The Wallis Posterior Dynamic Stabilization System is a non-fusion, spinal stabilization device. Right now, it's being used for investigational treatments on people with DDD. The Wallis system was designed as a way to treat disc problems without having a spinal fusion operation. It can last throughout a patient's lifetime, but it leaves the option to be adjusted or removed if another type of surgery is needed. Experts are describing the Wallis System as ideal for patients who have been unsuccessful in treating DDD with rehabilitation but don't have enough degeneration to require an artificial disc or fusion surgery.

CURRENT STUDIES: Abbott Spine, a division of Abbott global health care company in Austin, Texas, is sponsoring The Wallis Clinical study. The study is currently enrolling patients between ages 18 and 60 who are skeletally mature. They must have mild to moderate single level DDD at the L4-L5 discs and have been unsuccessful for six moths using conservative treatments. The objective of the study is to prove that the Wallis system is just as good, if not better, than current treatments for DDD. Participants will be randomly divided into two groups. One group will receive the Wallis Device, and the other group will receive an artificial disc. The study will be conducted at approximately 20 medical centers across the United States.

WORSE FOR SOME THAN OTHERS: DDD is very common. By age 50, 85 percent of Americans will show signs of disc degeneration. Currently, about 65 million Americans suffer from back pain of some kind. Some people who have DDD show no symptoms and experience no pain. For others, pain becomes so debilitating; activities like walking become a challenge. Although it's not clear why some cases are painful and others are not, the pain is thought to be associated with the nerve areas that affected discs are putting pressure on.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS: Oftentimes, DDD can be treated non-surgically. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed for patients who have lower back pain caused by DDD. If less-invasive treatments are unsuccessful, there are several surgical options that are currently available. Symptoms that indicate a DDD patient may need surgical treatment include: severe leg pain, difficulty standing or walking, and leg weakness and/or numbness.


Jose Naveira
Clinical Project Leader

Abbott Spine

(512) 533-1097