Governor's back problem is common, doctors say

10:40 AM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Spinal Stenosis, the condition afflicting Gov. Mark Dayton, is far from unusual and is often a bi-product of age.

"Stenosis is quite common," said Dr. Tenner Guillaume, of the Twin Cities Spine Center. "We see it potentially in up to a quarter to a third of the patients we see in any given day at the Spine Center."

Guillaume said the symptoms are radiating pain to the posterior buttocks and thighs when walking.

"Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal," said Guillaume. "That narrowing ends up resulting in compression of the nerve roots within the spinal canal and it is that compression that manifests the symptoms that one has with stenosis."

It is estimated that up to 500,000 Americans have symptoms of spinal stenosis. Not all require surgery.

"Surgery is an option," said Guillaume. "The most treatments we render are recommending physical therapy, steroid injections, oral steroids or even Ibuprofen and Aleve. If all those things fail then surgery is the next option. That can be just a decompression procedure; taking pressure off the nerve roots or it can be decompression with a fusion procedure."

The fusion is literally fusing two of the vertebrae in the spine, eliminating the gel-like disc between them.

"What fusion is, is actually sticking the two vertebrae together so they do not move and that is usually reserved for cases where you have slippage of the bones relative to each other," said Guillaume.

Dayton underwent successful surgery for his condition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on Thursday. He expects to spend several weeks recovering once he returns to the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul on Monday.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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