Lifewatch: Back surgery

FLORIDA -- Each year, 40-60% of American adults suffer from chronic back pain.

Now, a new surgery is offering relief to many people with less pain, rehabilitation, and anxiety.

Lorrie Henry is as dedicated to her dogs as they are to her, but this dedication led to a devastating accident.

"I had slipped on some water that the dogs spilled out of their bowl and my legs came up from under me and slammed down right on my back," said Lorrie.

Although a disc in Lorrie's spine had been flattening for some time, the fall did her in.  She wasn't able to do a lot of things she normally did.

Traditional surgery to treat back pain involves a large incision, a 3-4 hour surgery, and a long, painful recovery.

But, Lorrie was a good candidate for a new procedure called Axialif, which involves a less than 1 inch incision, less time under the knife, and a shorter, less painful recovery.

"They can get up and get moving much quicker in the hospital and they leave the hospital quicker," said Dr. Stephen Goll.

After doctors make a small incision at the base of the spine, the old, flattened disc is cleaned out.  Then, that space is filled with bone from the patient or bone growth material.

The area is stabilized with a bolt and two screws.  In Lorrie's case, relief was immediate.

"I woke up in my hospital room and it was amazing. I knew that I did not have the pain that I went in with," said Lorrie.

After only two weeks with a walker, Lorrie was back in the spin of things.

The FDA has cleared Axialif to treat certain vertebrae, which means half of all patients seeking lumbar spine fusions are now candidates for the less invasive procedure.

Reported by Kristy Ondo