Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD)

Dr. Garcia at Space City Pain Specialists has more experience with the MILD procedure than any other pain doctors in the Houston, San Antonio, and Austin areas.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD)

One of the primary causes of back pain among patients ages 65 to 75 is a condition called lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). This condition causes severe pain in the lumbar spine (the lower back region) along with leg pain and weakness when standing and walking.

Usually, pain doctors’ first line of treatment for LSS is an epidural steroid injection. While these injections do relieve pain, that relief is short-lived. While injections are the most conservative treatment for LSS, laminectomy surgery (major surgery usually requiring a 1- to 3-day hospital stay and a 4- to 6-week recovery period) is the most invasive treatment option. As an analogy, think of a spine affected by LLS as a clogged drain pipe. An epidural steroid injection is equivalent to treating the clog with Draino. Laminectomy surgery is equivalent to a plumber removing the clogged section of pipe.

Fortunately, there is an effective alternative to both of the above-mentioned treatments that will provide long-term relief from spine and leg pain and allow patients to return home the same day and immediately resume their normal activities. This specialized spine treatment is called minimally invasive lumbar decompression, or the MILD procedure. Returning to the plumbing analogy, the MILD procedure is equivalent to a plumber using a snake to remove the materials clogging the pipe, so the water flows freely again. The MILD procedure is available in the South Houston area from our spine specialist at Space City Pain Specialists.

What Causes Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Over time, the lumbar spine ligaments gradually thicken, exerting excess pressure on the lower back spinal nerves, causing spine and leg pain. Often, lumbar spinal stenosis is misdiagnosed as a circulatory problem because one symptom is disabling leg pain that occurs when a sufferer tries to stand or walk for an extended period of time.

Spinal stenosis that is left untreated often leads to this neurogenic claudication — leg pain, heaviness, and/or weakness while standing, and (especially) walking that is caused by a compression of the nerves in the lower spine. Patients who develop neurogenic claudication feel severe, agonizing pain even after walking for just a short period of time, that resolves after sitting. This pain is felt in the lower back but is most pronounced in the legs. As a result of this severe pain, patients tire quickly after short walks and must take frequent sitting breaks to experience relief.

If you find yourself stooping over when you’re walking or pushing a shopping cart or walker because it hurts to stand up straight, that’s a symptom of LSS and an excellent reason to learn more about the MILD procedure.

How the MILD Procedure Alleviates LSS-related Back Pain

The main goal of the MILD procedure is to remove the thickening portion of the lumbar spine to relieve back pain-causing pressure on the nerves.

Guided by X-ray imagery, the spine surgeons at Space City Pain Specialists make a small incision (about the width of a drinking straw) in the back and use tiny instruments to shave away the thickest parts of the spine. After the procedure, the patient’s incision is covered by a light bandage and he/she is able to return home the same day. One of the biggest benefits of the MILD procedure is that there is no recovery period: patients can resume their normal hobbies and routines the day after the procedure!

Major Benefits of Using The MILD Approach to Treat LSS-related Back Pain

The main benefit of the MILD approach is that it significantly reduces back pain and improves spine function. Collectively, MILD patients reported a 53% reduction in spine pain. Additionally, patients reported that the average length of time they could stand without pain increased from 8 minutes before the MILD procedure to 56 minutes after the procedure. Patients reported that the average distance they could walk without pain increased from 246 feet before the procedure to 3,956 feet after the MILD procedure.

Although MILD removes a small portion of the lumbar spine, patients experience no loss in spinal stability or function. After the procedure, the lumbar spine retains its original strength and is free of the stress and pressure that had been irritating the spinal nerves and causing spine pain. Other benefits of the MILD procedure compared to alternatives include:

  • Small (drinking straw-sized) incision mark
  • Same-day discharge
  • No hospital stay
  • No general anesthesia required
  • No implants or stitches needed
  • Low risk of complications
  • Immediate ability to resume light activities
  • Very quick recovery, back to walking the same day

Is the MILD Procedure Is Right for You?

If your symptoms include major pressure and pain in your lower back and pain in your back and legs when walking or standing (which are indicative of neurogenic claudication) and/or you have had an MRI that indicates the thickening of a ligament in your back, you may be an ideal candidate for treatment with the MILD procedure. The MILD procedure is not recommended for individuals with generalized chronic pain or for those who experience relief (rather than pain) when they walk.

If you are interested in learning more about the MILD procedure to alleviate your chronic lower back pain, contact us at Space City Pain Specialists. We were the first facility in the Houston area with doctors who have been trained and certified in using this innovative MILD procedure for chronic back and spine pain.

Are You Suffering From Chronic Spine Pain?

Call Space City Pain Specialists to discuss how the M-I-L-D procedure can help you get the spine pain relief that you need. (281) 338-4443