A new treatment for lower back pain

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Between 60 and 80 percent of all Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Ring tears are often responsible for persistent back pain. Annular tears are injuries that develop in the discs, the so-called “shock absorbers” that cushion the vertebrae of the spine.

Now orthopedic specialists are using a minimally invasive procedure to help stop the source of pain.

Neil Bar spends hours on his feet and on his bike. He’s a triathlete and endurance training keeps him fit mentally and physically.

“It’s a test of the human spirit,” Neil said.

But more than two decades of chronic back pain caused by congenital disease have tested its limits. Then, four years ago, more pain – but this time it was very different.

“It was just on the bone or in the disc,” Neil said.

Neil had an annular tear in a spinal disc and the material inside his disc was leaking causing inflammation, Neil wanted to avoid spinal fusion, which would have restricted his movement. Sports medicine specialist Dr. Brian Shiple recommended a regenerative procedure called Discseel.

Doctors take a synthetic material called fibrin and inject it into the damaged disc.

“It becomes like thick glue that they use to seal things instead of reinforcing sutures or instead of sutures,” Dr Shiple said.

The fibrin encourages the growth of new tissue, causing the tear in the disc to close so that the pain goes away.

“After two months he was pain free and training hard,” Dr Shiple continued.

Neil is preparing for his first post-COVID race with a back like new.

“Let’s get back to just being grateful that we can get in the saddle without any pain,” Neil said.

Fibrin was first approved by the FDA for use in facial reconstruction, spleen repair, and cardiac bleeding control during surgery because it heals tissue that cannot be sutured. Fibrin is used off-label to repair discs. Health care providers sometimes prescribe off-label drugs when they believe it is medically appropriate. The Discseel procedure is not covered by insurance.

It costs more between $14,500 and $15,500.

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