Herniated Disk - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Herniated Disk

Low back pain. Maybe it happened when you picked up that heavy box, or reached up to unload groceries. Or maybe it was that weekend game of touch football. The fact is, almost everyone suffers from low back pain now and then. Usually it's just a muscle strain that gets better on it's own. But sometimes that pain - caused by a slipped disc -- persists and becomes unbearable. That's when surgery may help. Doctors at Mayo Clinic use a new procedure that gets people back on their feet faster than standard surgery.

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"WOO-HOO!"

AS HE STRETCHES UP TO SLAM A SERVE, TENNIS PRO BRIAN CHRISTENSEN CONCENTRATES ONLY ON HIS GAME.

BUT HE USED TO GET DISTRACTED, WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT A QUICK HUSTLE WOULD CAUSE EXCRUCIATING PAIN. A HERNIATED DISC ALWAYS MADE HIM WONDER...

"MAN, CAN I REALLY GO FOR THAT BALL? CAN I GET TO THAT BALL WITHOUT GETTING INJURED?"

BRIAN COULD NOT PLAY OR COACH. IT HURT  TOO MUCH.

"IT GOT WORSE EVERY DAY."

BRIAN TRIED TO AVOID SURGERY BECAUSE HE HEARD IT MIGHT NOT WORK, AND RECOVERY COULD KEEP HIM OFF THE COURTS FOR MONTHS. BUT DOCTORS AT MAYO CLINIC TOLD HIM ABOUT A NEW PROCEDURE THAT CAN FIX THE DISC, AND GET HIM BACK IN THE GAME FASTER.

"THIS PARTICULAR TECHNIQUE IS REALLY FOR A PATIENT WHO HASN'T HAD A PREVIOUS DISC SURGERY, AND WHO HAS A WELL-DEFINED HERNIATED DISC.

"DR. WILLIAM KRAUSS IS BRIAN'S SURGEON. INSTEAD OF STRIPPING AWAY MUSCLE – WHICH CAUSES A LOT OF PAIN IN RECOVERY – DR, KRAUSS GUIDES A SMALL TUBE THROUGH MUSCLE TO THE DAMAGED DISC. ONCE THERE, HE USES TINY TOOLS TO REMOVE THE PART OF THE DISC THAT'S BULGING. NO BIG INCISION. THE ONLY VISIBLE SIGN OF SURGERY AFTERWARDS? A BAND-AID.

"I CAN RUN, I CAN MOVE."

BUT BRIAN SAYS THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING PAIN-FREE IS NOT A BOLD BACKHAND. IT'S BEING ABLE TO PICK UP HIS KIDS--LITTLE ELLEN AND MICHAEL.

"CARRYING THEM BOTH--THAT'S WHAT LIFE'S ALL ABOUT."

AND DOING IT ALL WITHOUT PAIN IS LIKE WINNING A GRAND SLAM.

Dr. Krauss says this type of minimally invasive disc surgery is not right for all patients. But those who would benefit can expect a 90-percent chance of being pain-free afterwards. Most back pain will resolve on it's own. But if your pain lasts longer than a few days or you have pain, weakness or numbness down your leg, see a doctor immediately. For more information, log onto http://www.medicaledge.org/2004may.html#3

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