Facet joint disease or deterioration is the most common cause of chronic back pain, and it has been historically difficult to help patients that do not respond to non-surgical treatment without major surgery. Facet joints are paired stabilizing joints located at every level of the spine. They consist of two opposing bony surfaces that are lined by a layer of cartilage.
A capsule surrounding the joint helps to stabilize the spine and contains a lubricating fluid known as synovial fluid. The joints combine with the disc space to create a three-joint complex that prevents excessive spinal motion to protect the spinal cord travelling within the backbone.
TruFUSE® is a new treatment option that is less complex, much less destructive, does not preclude other options and can be used much earlier than major surgery. It is appropriate for many patients who had no other option in the past. TruFUSE® uses two very small, precision tapered dowels that are inserted between facet joints using a special technique to stop them from moving.
Because stopping facet joints from moving stops the entire spinal segment from moving, TruFUSE® is also used as a conservative means to supplement many other procedures when more aggressive fixation is not required.
The TruFUSE® technique minimizes tissue destruction and typically results in minor post-operative pain.
Other treatment methods of facet disease and pain can be used, but many are short-term answers to a long-term problem. Back pain sufferers often initially try clinical solutions such as pain medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, and acupuncture or laser ablation. Traditional fusion, with a deep incision, is often completed by placing pedicle screws into the vertebrae and connecting them with metal rods, resulting in a major surgery and loss of time from work.
The entire procedure, when not used to supplement other, more invasive surgeries, is performed through two small incisions. Muscle tissue is progressively spread apart to reach the facet joints, where a tunnel is created in between the joint and a dowel is inserted. One benefit of the tunnel is that the nerve leading to the joint is removed in that section, which is why most patients find their original pain completely gone immediately after the procedure.
TruFUSE® has been used to treat thousands of patients who had no other option than to continue to suffer safely and effectively. A retrospective study of TruFUSE® outcomes from six different doctors showed that 80 of 81 patients had good to excellent results from the procedure.
The following link provides a video explanation of the TruFUSE® procedure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTxsDpkuT1w