Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) play a vital role in helping patients understand their lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) diagnosis and treatment recommendations. By developing strong provider-patient communication, you’re taking the first step towards achieving positive outcomes and enhancing the patient experience.

Why is patient education so important?

  • Limited health literacy is linked to a spectrum of suboptimal health outcomes, including increased reports of poor physical functioning, pain, limitations in activities of daily living, and poor mental health status (Source)
  • Only about 12 percent of U.S. adults demonstrate proficient health literacy skills (Source)
  • Limited health literacy disproportionately affects adults aged 65 and older (Source)

Based on the data above, it is clear that patients over 65 years of age–the group most likely to suffer from LSS–may need more support to understand their condition and treatment plan. With the recognition that both lumbar spinal stenosis and poor health literacy can increase your patients’ susceptibility to poor physical functioning, pain, and limitations in activities of daily living, APPs should feel especially empowered to engage patients. This includes helpful education and dialogue that supports their understanding and helps them feel more comfortable taking the next step on their path to lasting relief.

In the following article, you will find step-by-step guidance and pragmatic suggestions that you can start using today, to help you ensure that your patients leave their consultation feeling confident and excited about their opportunity to make the move to mild®.

Watch: See APP Ashley Comer’s complete talk track for presenting mild® to her LSS patients.

Teach Patients About mild® in 3 Easy Steps

Use the mild® patient brochure as a tool and follow these simple steps to help your patients better understand their lumbar spinal stenosis diagnosis and the benefits of the mild® Procedure.

Do you experience back and leg pain when you stand or walk? Have steroid injections stopped working? Get back on your feet with the mild® procedure

STEP 1: Explain LSS in Plain Language

LSS is a complex condition that can be challenging for patients to understand. It is important that patients comprehend the cause of their LSS symptoms, so they feel informed and confident in moving forward with a treatment plan.

icon of ringing bell

Skip the Medical Jargon

Instead of using complex medical terms or acronyms, simplify your explanation with common words, phrases, and analogies to help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

According to the CDC, nearly 9 out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use personal health information when it’s filled with unfamiliar or complex terms. (Source)

On the first page of the mild® patient brochure, you’ll find helpful illustrations that demonstrate the anatomical changes associated with LSS and the symptoms patients typically experience. During your patient consultation, be sure to highlight:

Infographic showing the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)

  • Compression of the nerves in the lower back.
    • LSS can develop as a result of aging and natural wear and tear on the spine
    • Thickened ligament is a major root cause of lumbar spinal stenosis
    • Symptoms are caused by pressure on spinal nerves
  • LSS symptoms affect daily life, causing pain and limited mobility. ASK YOUR PATIENT:
    • Do you feel pain, numbness, tingling, or heaviness when standing or walking?
    • Are your symptoms relieved by sitting, bending forward, or sleeping in the fetal position?

icon of a speech bubble

Relate LSS to Common, Lived Experiences

Many APPs and physicians use common, real-life analogies to help patients identify and understand their LSS symptoms. A common analogy that many patients may relate to is the “shopping cart syndrome.” Explaining that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis often feel relief when bending over a shopping cart (because it reduces pressure on the compressed nerves) can help patients recognize how this condition impacts their daily life.

STEP 2: Make the Discussion Specific to Your Patient

Once you’ve established the common signs and symptoms of LSS, demonstrate what the MRI shows for that specific patient. Turn to the last page of the mild® patient brochure, where you can use the diagrams provided. Drawing directly on the patient brochure, indicate the following:

What does your imaging show?

  • In the sagittal view on the left, note which level(s) are affected
  • In the axial view on the right, show how their thickened ligament appears in the MRI, being sure to draw over the nerves to demonstrate the impact on the central canal

Watch: See how APP Ashley Comer uses the illustrations in the mild® patient brochure to demonstrate her patients’ specific areas of stenosis.

You can also accompany the spinal illustrations in the mild® patient brochure with an added tool, such as a spine model or the patient’s MRI to reinforce the anatomical positioning of the problem or validate the diagnosis, respectively.

STEP 3: Highlight how the mild® Procedure Works

Once patients fully understand their condition, walk them through all of the reasons why you recommend they make the move to mild®. If you turn back to the beginning of the brochure (or access the same information in the mild® patient flip chart) and review the remaining pages, you can quickly cover the advantages of mild® relative to other treatment options, and prepare your patients for what to expect during and after their mild® Procedure.

Page 2: Comparing Treatment Options

Infographic showing the benefits of the mild® procedure compared to other treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis

  • The chart in the center of the page quickly presents mild® benefits in comparison to other treatment options for LSS, such as epidural steroid injections, spacer implants, or open surgery
  • Below the chart, the call out reinforces the unique advantages of mild® as the only treatment with a safety profile similar to an injection, and the lasting relief expected from back surgery


Because epidural steroid injections (ESIs) were historically the standard of care for lumbar spinal stenosis patients, your patient may be expecting you to recommend another injection. You can explain that the data shows that there is no benefit to giving more than one ESI before mild®, and that giving more than one ESI delays the patient from receiving the longer-lasting, more effective mild® Procedure.

Page 3: How mild® Removes the Problem and Leaves Nothing Behind

Infographic showing an illustrations of spinal compression before and after the mild® procedure

  • mild® addresses a major root cause of LSS by removing excess ligament tissue
  • mild® reduces compression on the nerves to restore mobility and relieve pain
  • mild® doesn’t eliminate future treatment options, as no major structural anatomy of the spine is altered

Page 4: What to Expect on the Day of the mild® Procedure

Infographic explaining what a patient can expect the day they will receive the mild® procedure

  • Short outpatient procedure
  • Can be performed using local anesthetic and light sedation
  • Incision smaller than the size of a baby aspirin
  • Patients typically resume normal activity within 24 hours with no restrictions

Page 5: What to Expect After the mild® Procedure

Infographic showing proven results of the mild® procedure in treating lumbar spinal stenosis

  • mild® has an 85% patient satisfaction rate
  • mild® continues to improve patient functionality over time
    • Over one year, average standing time increased 7x from 8 to 56 minutes with less pain
    • Over one year, average walking distance increased 16x from 246 to 3,956 feet with less pain
  • mild® helped 88% of patients avoid back surgery for at least 5 years, while providing lasting relief
  • mild® is covered by Medicare (including Medicare Advantage), the VA, U.S. Military, & IHS. Commercial coverage varies.

Setting Expectations Supports Patient Success

icon of a bell ringing

Every year, thousands of lumbar spinal stenosis patients are able to stand longer and walk farther with less pain thanks to the mild® Procedure, but those results aren’t achieved overnight. Improvements in patient functionality are typically achieved over time, with patients gradually increasing standing time and walking distance. If you set expectations in advance, patients may be more excited and satisfied to see their own functional improvements over time.

BONUS: Tips to Make Patient Education More Impactful
  1. Project confidence. When you showcase your knowledge and present information in ways patients can easily understand, they may feel more comfortable making decisions and following your recommendations.
  2. Encourage patients to ask questions. Take a moment between steps to confirm your patient understands the key points before moving to the next point.
  3. Discuss the benefits of reconditioning. When setting expectations around recovery, discuss the ways that patients can participate in improving their functionality. Help your patients get back on their feet by suggesting progressively longer walks, or even physical therapy.

Better Patient Education Helps Drive Success with mild®

LSS patients rely on APPs as critical members of their care team. Across the patient journey from diagnosing your patients’ LSS to finding relief with the mild® Procedure, APPs are key in supporting patients, helping them understand their condition, and feeling confident about their decision to make the move to mild®.

At Vertos, we recognize and support the role of APPs and are committed to providing education and resources that help you put more LSS patients on the path to lasting relief.

Don’t miss out on the latest and greatest tips and tools from Vertos.

  1. Register as an APP to stay informed of new peer-to-peer learning and other educational opportunities
  2. Follow us on social
  3. Connect with your Vertos rep for educational resources

Interventional Pain Management is a fast-growing specialty. As new lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) procedures become available, practices are evolving the way they collaborate and work together to optimize patient care. The mild® Procedure’s patient selection process is quite simple, but requires imaging review, which is often not a part of Advanced Practice Providers’ (APP) traditional education.

The Vertos APP Advisory Board has emphasized the need for educational tools for APPs who would like to develop their image review skillset. Two of the esteemed Vertos APP Board Members, James Lynch, PA and Kelsey Kimball, PA, partnered with their physicians Dr. Michael Verdolin and Dr. Ajay Antony to provide an interactive workshop focused on enhancing imaging review skillsets. View the interactive workshop where they cover imaging basics, navigating software, measuring the ligament, and more!

  • LSS & mild® Patient Identification Overview (2:20)
  • MRI Basics (9:59)
  • Anatomical Review (15:58)
  • Navigating Imaging Software (27:24)
  • mild® Case Studies (1:02:26)
  • Benefits of Incorporating Image Review Into Your Practice (1:09:12)
  • Additional Educational Resources Available (1:12:43)
  • Q&A (1:15:13)

Looking for more info on mild® patient identification criteria? Check out our blog: Identifying & Educating mild® Patients – APP Guidance.

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mild® is often referred to as a “simple little procedure” that can make a major impact on the quality of life and mobility for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) patients. Minimally invasive lumbar decompression (mild®) removes the problem and leaves nothing behind—no implants, no stitches—allowing patients to stand longer and walk farther with less pain. A short, outpatient procedure, it is performed through a single 5.1mm incision in the patient’s lower back, addressing a major root cause of lumbar spinal stenosis by removing excess ligament tissue. Patients typically resume normal activity within 24 hours with no restrictions.

So, how do practices describe this “simple little procedure” to their patients? We like to say the mild® Procedure is similar to “removing a kink in a drinking straw,” reducing the compression on the nerves in the lower back to restore mobility and relieve pain.

Photos showing before and after images of a patient treated with the mild® Procedure and suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis

We asked a group of mild® physicians how they describe the mild® Procedure and its big, life-changing potential to their patients and referring physicians. We heard a lot of fun analogies—here are a few of our favorites.

ESI is like

Illustration of tape dispenser

mild® is like

illustration of glue bottle

Dr. Peter Pryzbylkowski; Linwood, NJ

I describe mild® to my patients as a “quality-of-life procedure.”

I walk them through my algorithm and I say, “Listen: I can put a temporary Band-Aid [solution] on this for you with an epidural steroid injection (ESI), or I have a tool in my toolkit that could hopefully fix this for you where it’s not just a Band-Aid. It really improves your quality of life.”

Once you frame it this way for patients—as an epidural being a Band-Aid, with mild® being more of a definitive procedure—you have a captive audience that typically wants to go ahead and get a percutaneous decompression.

For patients who know cardiology, ESI is like

illustration of a pill bottle

mild® is like

illustration of a stent

Dr. Brian Durkin; Port Jefferson, NY

Our patients are generally familiar with cardiology procedures. So, I tell them lumbar spinal stenosis treatment options are similar to the options available for patients with coronary artery stenosis. You can either treat them with meds to improve blood flow or put in a stent to open it up more permanently. The mild® Procedure restores space around the spinal cord, just like a stent restores space in your blood vessels.

ESI is like

illustration of a clogged drain

mild® is like

illustration of an unclogged drain

Dr. Brian J. Goentzel; Wichita, KS

I tell patients: “Your spinal canal is kind of like your sink when it gets clogged. If your sink is really clogged, you can pour Drano down it all you want. But that’s a temporary fix, and it doesn’t work long-term. At some point, you’ve got to get in and unclog the drain.”

ESI is like

illustration of a room cluttered with furniture

mild® is like

illustration of a room with an appropriate amount of furniture

Dr. Erin Chaney; Jacksonville, NC

I describe how mild® works like fixing a room that is overcrowded with furniture. I tell them:

“Imagine a room full of tables and chairs, and you just can’t move around. What I am going to do today is just take a couple of chairs out to make some more space, so your anatomical structures can move around easily.”

LSS is like

illustration of too many people in an elevator

mild® is like

illustration of a normal amount of people in an elevator

Dr. Dawood Sayed; Kansas City, KS

“When I describe what stenosis/LSS does to a patient’s spinal canal, I compare it to having too many people in an elevator. What we do with mild® is open the door and let a few people out so that the folks remaining have more room to move freely for the ride.”

How do you describe mild® to your patients? If you have an effective analogy you use to talk about the benefits of mild® or its approach, we’d love to hear about it. Email us today. If you need additional patient resources, please contact your Vertos representative.

Interventional Pain Management is a fast-growing specialty. As new lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) procedures become available, practices are evolving the way they collaborate and work together to optimize patient care. The mild® Procedure’s patient selection process is quite simple, but requires imaging review, which is often not a part of Advanced Practice Providers’ (APP) traditional education.

Although image review can be intimidating, APPs report that the learning curve is relatively short and there are resources available to help you get started. Below are some tips from mild® APPs on how they quickly established comfort with imaging review in their practice, allowing them to “look for the ligament,” identify hypertrophic ligamentum flavum (HLF), and educate mild® patients independently. You can access a CME webinar on the topic below as well.

Standardize MRI requests to request HLF be listed and measured: if it isn’t on the report, review and measure yourself.

Ashley Comer, NP
The Spine & Nerve Centers of the Virginias
Charleston, WV

Get comfortable with your imaging system and work alongside your physician to identify anatomical landmarks using the measuring tools.

Jane Hartigan, PA
Evolve Restorative Center
Santa Rosa, CA

Get comfortable with your imaging system and work alongside your physician to identify anatomical landmarks using the measuring tools.

Jane Hartigan, PA
Evolve Restorative Center
Santa Rosa, CA

Don’t rely on the MRI report alone: HLF is often overlooked, so be sure to look at the images yourself.

Kelsey Kimball, PA
The Orthopaedic Institute
Gainesville, FL

Practice reviewing imaging with patients. Usually, no one has explained their condition to them using imaging, so once you establish comfort with image review, incorporate this step into your patient education routine.

Christine Christensen, NP
Spine & Pain Institute of Florida
Lakeland, FL

Practice reviewing imaging with patients. Usually, no one has explained their condition to them using imaging, so once you establish comfort with image review, incorporate this step into your patient education routine.

Christine Christensen, NP
Spine & Pain Institute of Florida
Lakeland, FL

Use each image review as a training opportunity. Review the image yourself, then compare it with the report.

CME Webinar: Reviewing MRIs: A Collaborative Approach to Patient Selection

Webinar - ASPN CME Webinar Series: Reviewing MRIs: A Collaborative Approach to Patient Selection

In this American Society of Pain & Neuroscience (ASPN) webinar, moderators Timothy Deer, MD; Dawood Sayed, MD and faculty members Navdeep Jassal, MD; Eugene Paik, MD; Ashley Comer, NP-C; Christine Christensen, APRN; and Zohra Hussaini, MSN, FNP-BC, MBA, APRN discuss how physicians and APPs can match more patients with the right treatments sooner by working together.

Access the Webinar

Educational activity is jointly provided by Evolve Medical Education, LLC and Mantra Meetings, and is available for CME credit until its expiration date of June 23, 2022.

Looking for more info on mild® patient identification criteria? Check out our blog: Identifying & Educating mild® Patients – APP Guidance. Interested in APP-focused education and events? Sign up to stay informed and receive the latest updates!

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We know that mild® is a great option for the lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) patients in your practice—but it’s also a great way to differentiate your offering and attract more referrals from the community.

As mild® has gained more and more momentum—demonstrating a safety profile equivalent to epidural steroid injections, positive patient outcomes, and 5-year durability of results—our practice has made mild® a cornerstone of our LSS treatment algorithm. It’s certainly rewarding to see patients regain mobility and get back on their feet. Importantly, when these cases become success stories, mild® patients, their family members, referring physicians, or physical therapists become powerful advocates in the community, driving referrals and offering compelling testimonials that build credibility, motivate new patients, and improve your community’s access to this meaningful treatment.

It’s important to recognize that today, many people in our communities still think about pain management in terms of medications and epidurals. As interventionalists, we have an opportunity to educate them on the wide range of services we provide and how we can not only help manage symptoms, but also restore function, improve overall health, and enhance overall quality of life. If the mild® Procedure has yet to become part of your management of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), my colleagues share in a recent blog post how to integrate the procedure into an LSS treatment algorithm. Here are a few steps you should consider taking to reach and attract more patients:

Help patients and referrers understand why you move to mild®

As clinicians, we are often tasked with making complex concepts accessible to our patients and other clinicians, many of whom only know LSS as “chronic low back pain” or who believe options are limited to serial epidural steroid injections or surgery.

To introduce mild®, we utilize the patient education tools to emphasize several key points:

  • Up to 85% of spinal canal narrowing is caused by thickened ligament
  • mild® addresses this major root cause of LSS by removing excess ligament tissue and leaves no implants behind
  • mild® restores space in the spinal canal, which reduces the compression of the nerves

If they ask why our practice moves to mild® early in the treatment algorithm, we can reference this recent clinical study, published in Pain Management, which found that:

  • There is no benefit to performing multiple epidural steroid injections before the mild® Procedure
  • Performing multiple epidural injections delays patients from receiving a longer-lasting, more effective mild® treatment
  • Performing the mild® Procedure immediately upon diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis with thickened ligament or after failure of the first epidural injection is an appropriate treatment approach

To help patients and caregivers access and engage with this information, I like to share a plain language summary document. It helps patients better understand how mild® can reduce the treatment burdens associated with frequent injections, provide lasting therapeutic results, and help our practice meet our primary goal of restoring function and achieving sustained improvement in quality of life.

The summary contextualizes key information from the study, including the findings, treatment details, study methods, and patient demographics—all using simple language and visual illustrations.

We also use the summary to educate and build relationships with referring clinicians, many of whom are unfamiliar with minimally invasive lumbar decompression, the procedure, and its impact on care protocols. The summary is written using simple language but is very detail-rich, making it a valuable resource for health stakeholders involved in collaborative care. When we send this to practices in our network, we like to strengthen the referring relationship by:

  • Including a personalized note briefly summarizing the mild® Procedure’s impact, how it empowers us to help patients restore function and reclaim lost quality of life, and how appreciative we are of the role they play as clinicians caring for patients with symptomatic spinal stenosis
  • Offering to schedule a Zoom call, coffee session, or dinner to help practitioners and staff better recognize the signs of lumbar spinal stenosis in their chronic low back pain patients
  • Offering to drop off patient brochures, postcards, or other educational assets that can help other specialists educate patients on their candidacy for the procedure, improve their readiness for treatment, and ensure an informed, patient-centered experience from start to finish

Add educational videos to your website

In addition to sharing the plain language summary, it can be helpful to leverage educational videos on your website to further inform patients about the benefits of mild® for lumbar spinal stenosis.

The patient video provides an excellent overview of both LSS and mild®.

To help patients find the information they’re looking for, create a video summary that describes the information the patient is about to see. The shorter and more concise the description, the better. You can include specific details on the benefits of mild® leading with the key points patients care most about:

  • Safety profile similar to an epidural steroid injection
  • Incision smaller than the size of a baby aspirin (5.1mm)
  • No implants left behind, only a small bandage over the puncture site
  • Patients typically resume normal activity within 24 hours with no restrictions

Showcase patient success stories and positive clinical outcomes

Success stories from patients who have benefited from your spinal stenosis treatment offer a powerful and influential tool for creating patient awareness and should form a cornerstone of your outreach efforts. When a patient finally finds relief, they usually want to help other people who are suffering get back on their feet.

Document your lumbar spinal stenosis patients’ treatment journeys and capture testimonials so you can share them on your website and social media platforms. Teach them how to recognize the signs of LSS in their friends and family members and encourage them to share their story.

Additionally, when working with referring care providers, implement strong post-procedure communication strategies to cultivate active, engaged partnerships. Following a mild® Procedure, we inform referring providers of their patients’ results, and help them understand what the patient can expect over time.

Educate your Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)

When APPs understand that patient functionality continues to improve as time progresses, they can help manage patient expectations. APPs working within our referring clinicians’ offices also appreciate frequent status updates. This often translates into additional patient referrals and better care partnerships.

Ask your APPs to use the Move More Questionnaire to assess patient mobility before and after mild®.

The reward of serving the community

At the end of the day, our primary goal is to offer meaningful outcomes that restore function and reduce pain for patients in our community. To capture attention and positively impact more lives, it is fundamentally important that we make our communities aware of the full range of services we offer for lumbar spinal stenosis patients.

Taking this approach takes a little work but yields considerable reward. Successfully treating with mild®, using those successes to build lasting community relationships, and helping patients finally get on the path to relief, has brought our practice immense satisfaction, as well as steady increases in patients coming in to see what options we may have to treat their pain and increase their activity.

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