Updated: Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011, 9:13 AM EST
Published : Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011, 4:40 PM EST
New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - Yale-New Haven Hospital is the only one in the state offering a clinical trial that is helping back pain sufferers.
Ernest Mrazik has little to complain about these days.
"Any pain, numbness, shooting down your legs at this point?"
"No, the pain is gone, long gone," Ernest said.
He can stretch and move with more ease and no pain. For Ernest, numbness in his legs was the impetus to seek other possible treatment.
"As I got out of the car, I would hold onto the car door and wait for the sensation to pass. The brain was telling my legs to move but it was like I was paralyzed, they wouldn't move," he explained.
Dr. Peter Whang diagnosed Ernest with spinal stenosis.
"Spinal stenosis is basically pressure on the nerves," Dr. Whang explained. "What happens is that basically there's less room available for the nerves and that nerve compression cause symptoms of pain, numbness, shooting down the legs."
Ernest got relief after taking part in a study which Dr. Whang is the lead surgeon. It weighs the benefits of the latest two interspinous spacers designed to relieve the chronic pain.
"Basically what these implants are designed to do are to fit between the bones of the spine like this, to open up the canal, to give the nerves more space here," Dr. Whang said.
Ernest received the smallest and less invasive device. Dr. Whang started with a small incision, using x-ray guidance, to implant it.
"Once we know the implant is in place, we turn the screw and the wings of this implant will deploy to open up the space and hold the implant in place," Dr. Whang said.
The results are promising.
"Well now I can bend down and touch my toes, twist and I can go back to playing golf without pain again," Ernest said.
Dr. Whang says the ideal candidate for the study is someone who has the symptoms Ernest had and who gets some relief by sitting or bending forward. If you would like to participate in the study please call 888-978-8391.