TFAS Posterior View
Ever bend down and not get up again for a few days? Have you turned your neck in one direction only to find that your body had to accompany your neck to turn to the other side?
Usually these occurrences are occasional in our forties and fifties, and some physical therapy or chiropractics, plus a tincture of time, will see us through the awkward and painful period. But as we get into our senior years, many of us develop more pervasive spinal problems that can distort our bodies, and seriously affect daily living.
Spinal stenosis, the closing of the spinal canal, caused by the deterioration of bone, joint, and ligament structures that surround and protect the spinal cord, can result in a “permanent” stoop, or permanent inability to rotate the neck. This closing can cause inflammation of the surrounding nerves, that can cause considerable pain, even into the head and legs.
Right now, surgical treatments for pain, as well as some implants (e.g., spinal fusion) with limited function, are available for the most severe cases of spinal stenosis. But a new procedure which can restore full use of your spine, just as knee and hip replacements can restore the functions of those joints, is being tested in the U.S., and is already being practiced in other countries!
It’s called TFAS®, the Total Facet Arthroplasty System® and it was created by Archus® Orthopedics, a private company in Redmond, Washington, specializing in orthopedic implants. TFAS is a patented spinal implant that replaces worn facets of the spine.
Facets are joints at the back of each vertebra that articulate with each other and allow independent movement. The facet joints, like the hip and knee joints, are surrounded by synovial fluid that enables their frictionless movement.
Arthrus is currently conducting clinical studies of TFAS in 20+ cities in the U.S., and they are still open to participants. These studies compare the safety and effectiveness of TFAS with spinal fusion surgery. In biomechanical tests, TFAS has performed very efficiently in the areas of kinematics, fixation, strength, and articulation.
If the clinical results perform as well as the biomechanical results, boomers can be a lot more active in our senior years than generations before us. Just think of being able to play golf or play tennis or even just take a walk well into our 90’s! Chances are that if your parents have spinal stenosis, they are not able to do these activities now.