Along with aging often comes painful side effects, including chronic leg and back pain. Sometimes, this is the result of spinal stenosis. It is believed to be the cause of leg and back pain for nearly 1.2 million Americans. In fact, as baby boomers enter into their 60's, it is estimated that the number of seniors with spinal stenosis will double over the next decade. ˆ 

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a result of aging and every day wear and tear on the spine. It is the degenerative narrowing of the spaces in the spine that can lead to spinal cord and/or nerve root compression.

What are the symptoms?

Spinal stenosis can seriously affect an individual's ability to enjoy the activities of everyday living. The most common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include chronic leg pain that may be accompanied by:

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Low back pain

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Leg numbness and tingling

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Limitations in walking

How is it treated?

Non-Surgical Treatment

Depending on the severity of symptoms, spinal stenosis can often be managed through drug and/or physical therapy. Although pain management and spinal stenosis exercises are helpful, they are not curative and require patients to routinely see a physical therapist. If non-surgical techniques do not help to alleviate the pain, a physician may recommend a surgical procedure.


A decompressive laminectomy, more commonly known as a 'spinal decompression procedure' is the most common type of surgery. During this invasive surgical procedure a surgeon removes the bone and soft tissue pressing on the nerve roots. Many patients are apprehensive about this procedure as it involves a large incision and typically requires a lengthy recovery period.

Spinal fusion may be considered with a spinal decompressive procedure to help stabilize sections of the spine. Spinal fusion is also major surgery, which can last several hours and have a long recovery. Additionally, as the surgery is designed to limit motion of the joints, a patient may experience limited mobility after the procedure. ˆ 

Minimally Invasive Options

Recently a new type of surgical treatment has become available that uses an interspinous spacer device, which is designed to relieve pressure on the nerves while preserving the patient's anatomy and ability to maintain motion.

The Superionˆ® Interspinous Spacer (ISS) was designed as an alternative to traditional spinal surgery. It belongs to a new category of treatments designed to relieve chronic pain caused by moderate spinal stenosis.ˆ  They work by alleviating the pressure on the compressed nerve roots while preserving the patient's anatomy and ability to maintain motion.ˆ  Only one such device (the X-STOPˆ® IPDˆ®) is currently approved in the U.S.ˆ  The Superion ISS currently in clinical trials is a less invasive alternative to X-STOP.

The Superion's minimally invasive surgical technique is performed through a single, half-inch skin incision. Once in place, the device is intended to act as a support column to open the passageways that contain the spinal cord and nerve roots. This may reduce the compression on the nerves, resulting in potential pain relief in the leg, groin and buttocks, and the return to a more active lifestyle.

The Superion IDE Clinical Trial

Performance Spine and Sports Physicians is now enrolling patients for the Superionˆ® Interspinous Spacer Clinical Trial, a national multi-center clinical trial which will assess the safety and effectiveness of the Superionˆ® Interspinous Spacer (ISS) in patients who suffer from moderate lumbar spinal stenosis. The trial will enroll individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis who have not had success with other treatments. To be eligible for screening and inclusion in the trial, individuals must:

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Be diagnosed with moderate lumbar spinal stenosis.

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Be at least 45 years old. ˆ 

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Have been experiencing symptoms that include persistent leg, buttock and/or groin pain for at least six months

€¢ˆ ˆ  ˆ Not have a history of prior surgery of the lumbar spine.

Patients who meet the study criteria and agree to participate are randomly chosen to receive either the X-STOPˆ® IPDˆ® or the Superionˆ® ISS and will be evaluated at specific follow-up visits for 24 months after their surgery.

Where can patients learn more?

Individuals suffering from leg pain and numbness caused by lumbar spinal stenosis who would like to receive more information about the Superion„¢ Interspinous Spacer Clinical Trial should contact 1-888-978-8391, or visit

NOTE: The Superion„¢ Interspinous Spacer (ISS) is an investigational device and limited by federal law to investigational use only.

Editor's note:ˆ  This article was written and provided by Dr. Thomas Haley, D.O., Performance Spine and Sports Physicians, Pottstown.

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