Back Pain Relief With New Disc Procedure

AUGUST 16, 2005 -- With every step, Gary Archer puts the misery behind him. Archer is now up and walking because less than a month ago he became the first person in Wilmington to receive a Charite artificial disc.

Before, walking was a struggle and playing with his children was almost impossible.

"Anytime I did anything with my kids it was in agony. All I wanted to do was sit around the house and be a vegetable," says Archer.

His pain started with a fall years ago and over the years the disc simply wore out.

Until recently surgeons were inserting a device into patients that literally fused the spine together and gave patients no mobility, but the new device gives patients a full range of motion and that means a more active lifestyle.

"The patients get improvement of their pain quicker than they do with fusion and you're still allowing the spine to move. You're mimicking the natural anatomy of the spine," says Dr. Mark Rodger.

Studies show patients have greater flexibility, more mobility, less pain, and shorter hospital stays.

"The recovery time will probably be about six weeks, opposed to a minimum of three months with the traditional treatment," says Dr. Jon Miller.

Archer's personal goal is to be able to run three miles within three months. The faster the steps, the quicker the memories of misery fade.

While the Charite disc is the answer for some patients suffering from lower back pain, it's not for everyone. Candidates for the disc must have only one worn out disc and no other back related problems.

Reported by Sarah Warlick