Back pain milestone: North Carolina Orthopedic Surgeon is First to Implant 'Motion Preserving' Spinal Device to Treat Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, the Most Common Indication for Surgery in Persons Aged over 60 in the United States -- Clinical study info at

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Thomas A. Dimmig, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Triangle Orthopaedic Associates, Durham, N.C., is the first physician in North Carolina to implant the Stabilimax NZ(R) Dynamic Spine Stabilization System as part of a randomized, controlled, national clinical trial.

So, I opted for the Stabilimax NZ procedure

    The research study is comparing posterior dynamic stabilization in patients using the Stabilimax NZ device to patients receiving traditional fusion surgery to treat their Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, a common lower-back disorder where deterioration of the joints and discs leads to increased pressure on the spinal nerves. Dr. Dimmig's first patient was 68-year-old grandmother and Holly Springs, N.C., resident "Mary B."

"I'm 68 years old, I have 17 grandchildren, and I am a very active granny--or at least I was until, out of the blue, I developed overwhelming and persistent back pain," says Mary. "I went through months and months of physical therapy and traction, but nothing seemed to help. Eventually I had to use a cane. It got to the point where I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand, without intense pain, which would go from my hip to my leg, and finally my leg just went numb and tingling and just stayed that way all the time. It was really painful, you just can't imagine. I got very depressed, because I couldn't do the things I would normally do. I got to the point where I felt I was useless.

"As luck would have it, my son knew someone who had had a disc replacement by Dr. Dimmig, and my son suggested that I see him," Mary recalls. "Dr. Dimmig and I talked about the possibility of fusion surgery, but that would have meant very limited mobility for me. I was extremely hesitant about that because, like I said, I wanted to be active again.

"So, I opted for the Stabilimax NZ procedure," Mary explains. "And oh my goodness I'd say within three months of the surgery, I drove all the way from North Carolina to Cleveland, Ohio (approximately 550 miles), and I stopped twice and I had no back pain whatsoever. No leg pain whatsoever. I felt like a new person. It was amazing. I was so excited because I could actually walk, with no help, and not have a stitch of pain. Before my Stabilimax NZ procedure, when I made the same car trip, I'd have to have a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine on my back, and I had ice bags on it the entire trip. And I had to get out of the car every 30 minutes, can you imagine, so I wouldn't get such pain that I could no longer drive."

"My granddaughter in North Carolina graduated from college this past May, and we had a big family party, and I played volleyball!" says Mary. "I had no pain. And then another granddaughter was playing jump rope, and I heard her say, 'Oh, Granny can't jump rope because she has a really bad back.' When I heard that, I went to her immediately and jumped double-Dutch with her and her friends! Everybody was saying, 'You're gonna hurt yourself, you can't do that!' I just kept on jumping and smiling.

"It's been a miracle," insists Mary. "I honestly, honestly feel that Dr. Dimmig has given me a new life. A brand new life. That's the way I look at it."

"This new Stabilimax NZ procedure has the potential to reduce pain and suffering for the thousands of seniors like Mary who suffer from this common spinal condition, Lumbar Spinal Stenosis," says Dr. Dimmig.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is the most common indication for surgery in persons aged over 60 in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 400,000 Americans, most over the age of 60, may already be suffering from the symptoms of LSS (source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS)), and this number is expected to grow over the next decade.

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Ronald C. Trahan
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