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Dr. Eric Nabors, South Hills Orthopaedic Associates
Specializing in Relieving Back Pain
By Nancy Kennedy

Everybody has back pain – eventually. The human spine wears out as it ages, and nearly everyone will experience some degree of back pain as they grow older, particularly in the lower back. Back pain can occur at any age but it is far more common in the elderly. The degenerative changes of arthritis create bulges in the discs and bone spurs, which narrow the spinal canal and cause pain due to the pressure they impose on the spinal cord, pinching it in the restricted space. That pain may be quite severe and disabling, making it difficult to perform activities of daily living and even to stand up straight, but fortunately there are physicians who specialize in the treatment of this condition, which is known as spinal stenosis.

One of those physicians is orthopaedic surgeon Eric Nabors, M.D., a board certified spine surgery specialist who practices with South Hills Orthopaedic Associates. Nabors has been successfully treating patients with spinal stenosis for over 14 years and he says that there are treatment options available that can ease pain, improve mobility and restore quality of life to patients. "Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal due to the degeneration of the discs. The bulges and spurs are essentially arthritis, and although this confuses people, they are the same thing. For the vast majority of people with back pain, it will be minor and short lived. But with severe or chronic pain, intervention is needed, in the form of diagnostic tests and treatments. Generally, treatment of back pain is progressive: it begins with medication to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Tylenol and a variety of anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful. The next step is physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatment, which can make the patient feel better by strengthening the supporting muscles and reducing inflammation. If that doesn't help, an epidural steroid injection may be indicated. The final step is surgery, a procedure called a laminectomy that decompresses the spine by removing parts of the vertebrae that are impinging on the cord."

Another option is a relatively new minimally invasive procedure using a device called an X-stop, made by Medtronic. An X-Stop is a small spacer that the surgeon places in the back of the spine to gently spread the vertebrae and hold them open, relieving the pressure on the spinal cord. Dr. Nabors, who is one of the only physicians in the region performing the X-Stop procedure, explains that it is a safe and effective procedure for many patients. "The advantages of the X-Stop implant are that it is extremely safe, it's done on an outpatient basis and there is a shorter recovery time of just 3 to 5 days, compared to the 2 to 4 weeks that is the typical recovery period following laminectomy. The disadvantage is that it doesn't match laminectomy in effectiveness; laminectomy has a success rate of 90% while X-Stop has a rate of approximately 65%. But for some patients, especially older adults in their 80's who are at higher risk and perhaps should not undergo a more complex surgery, it's a very good option."

Dr. Nabors is a graduate of the University Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed his internship at Mercy Hospital. He went on to a residency at Tufts University Medical Center and then returned to Pittsburgh for his fellowship. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Nabors was born and raised in Mount Lebanon, where he resides today with his family. He feels that being a spine surgeon enables him to make a substantial difference in the lives of others. "It's an area where I can really help people who have been suffering with chronic pain. It's a challenging field with interesting surgeries."

To learn more about South Hills Orthopaedic Associates, visit the website at www.southhillsortho.com

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