Implant offers new option for spinal pain

Sam DiSalvatore is pain-free after a new procedure. (Source: WOIO)
Sam DiSalvatore is pain-free after a new procedure. (Source: WOIO)
Published: May. 4, 2016 at 7:56 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2016 at 12:41 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Many people know the pain and aggravation that come with pretty much any kind of spinal injury or condition. But a new procedure can be a game changer for those whose problem comes from the upper spine. We're talking about a spinal implant or prosthesis that can not only relieve nerve pain in the upper back and neck area, but preserve motion. It's something previous procedures could not do.

"Back to normal," is how 49-year-old Sam DiSalvatore of Macedonia describes how he feels now. But just this time last year he wasn't sure he'd ever know that again.

He suffered a bulged disc toward the top of his spine, leaving him miserable.

"It hurt," he said. "I couldn't sleep it was that bad."

He demonstrated how holding his left arm over his head was the only way he could feel any relief. When medication or physical therapy would not do the job, he found Dr. Robert McLain in Solon with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, offering a new option.

"It's really exciting," the doctor explained. "(It's) most exciting because a lot of my patients come back and are dramatically better."

It's cervical disc replacement surgery. A small state-of-the-art device called the Mobi-C, inserted through the front of the neck, replaces the damaged disc. The doctor says "the implant then rests in there, grows into the bone and eventually it will become like the discs above and below and allow motion and side bending, front and back."

It's an alternative to the more traditional fusion, which eliminates the pain by simply fusing bones together, but also eliminates some movement.

That's something DiSalvatore was not at all ready for, and the new option, he'll admit, brings the kind of relief he wasn't quite expecting.

"The pain immediately when I woke up was gone," DiSalvatore said. "I felt no pain in my arms any longer."

Making it even better, the doctor says you can really get back to normal activity in a few days, but takes a couple months for full recovery.

It's not for everyone, he adds, as it works best with younger more active people whose injuries are relatively new.

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