New surgery offers faster healing than traditional back pain treatment

Posted at 10:36 PM, Nov 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-30 00:36:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Chronic neck and back pain affects millions of Americans every day, and current procedures can have a long and complicated recovery. But a Salt Lake City doctor helped bring a rare and relatively new procedure to Utah.

Dr. Armen Khachatryan, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Jordan Valley Medical Center, helped pioneer artificial disc implantation as an alternative to the traditional spinal fusion procedure.

"In contrast to fusion, where most of the patients would be spending their post-operative recovery in a neck collar, and keeping them immobilized while that fusion takes place," Khachatryan said. "In this case, with disc replacement, our goal is not to fuse. Our goal is to preserve motion, so we encourage our patients to start moving their neck as quickly as possible."

Clayton Reynolds was the first person in Utah to receive the new two-level cervical disc procedure. He said that before the surgery, his pain level was off the charts.

"It got to the point where not only the pain in my neck, it was affecting my hands and my arms," Reynolds said. "The vertebrae had swollen at one point to where my wife, when I pointed out to her, you know, look at my neck, she touched it, I dropped to my knees. They were that inflamed."

The new surgery, which has been approved by the FDA, gets the patient back to normal life much more quickly than spinal fusion. Khachatryan says most patients go home either the day of the surgery or the next morning.

Reynolds says he hasn't felt this good in a long time.

"Now, I feel just like the day I was 21. My neck feels great, I have no more pain, I sleep better," he said.