You’ve Moved Beyond ESIs for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Does Your Community Know?
Author— David M. Dickerson, MD
December 16, 2021
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.
Benyamin RM, Staats PS, MiDAS ENCORE Investigators. mild® is an effective treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication: MiDAS ENCORE Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Physician. 2016;19(4):229-242.
Mekhail N, Costandi S, Abraham B, Samuel SW. Functional and patient-reported outcomes in symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis following percutaneous decompression. Pain Pract. 2012;12(6):417-425. doi:10.1111/j.1533-2500.2012.00565.x.
2012 data from Health Market Sciences report for Vertos Medical 2013.
Data on file with Vertos Medical.
Staats PS, Chafin TB, Golvac S, et al. Long-term safety and efficacy of minimally invasive lumbar decompression procedure for the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication: 2-year results of MiDAS ENCORE. Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2018;43:789-794. doi:10.1097/AAP.0000000000000868.
Based on mild® Procedure data collected in all clinical studies. Major complications are defined as dural tear and blood loss requiring transfusion.
MiDAS ENCORE responder data. On file with Vertos Medical.
Jain S, Deer TR, Sayed D, et al. Minimally invasive lumbar decompression: a review of indications, techniques, efficacy and safety. Pain Manag. 2020;10(5). https://doi.org/10.2217/pmt-2020-0037. Accessed June 1, 2020.
Deer TR, Grider JS, Pope JE, et al. The MIST Guidelines: the Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Consensus Group guidelines for minimally invasive spine treatment. Pain Pract. 2019;19(3)250-274. doi:10.1111/papr.12744.
Hansson T, Suzuki N, Hebelka H, Gaulitz A. The narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal during loaded MRI: the effects of the disc and ligamentum flavum. Eur Spine J. 2009;18(5):679-686. doi:10.1007/s00586-009-0919-7.
Treatment options shown are commonly offered once conservative therapies (e.g., physical therapy, pain medications, chiropractic) are not providing adequate relief. This is not intended to be a complete list of all treatments available. Doctors typically recommend treatments based on their safety profile, typically prioritizing low risk/less aggressive procedures before higher risk/more aggressive procedures, but will determine which treatments are appropriate for their patients.
Although the complication rate for the mild® Procedure is low, as with most surgical procedures, serious adverse events, some of which can be fatal, can occur, including heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood or fat that migrates to the lungs or heart). Other risks include infection and bleeding, spinal cord and nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis. This procedure is not for everyone. Physicians should discuss potential risks with patients. For complete information regarding indications for use, warnings, precautions, and methods of use, please reference the devices’Instructions for Use.
Patient stories on this website reflect the results experienced by individuals who have undergone the mild® Procedure. Patients are not compensated for their testimonial. The mild® Procedure is intended to treat lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) caused by ligamentum flavum hypertrophy. Although patients may experience relief from the procedure, individual results may vary. Individuals may have symptoms persist or evolve or other conditions that require ongoing medication or additional treatments. Please consult with your doctor to determine if this procedure is right for you.
Reimbursement, especially coding, is dynamic and changes every year. Laws and regulations involving reimbursement are also complex and change frequently. Providers are responsible for determining medical necessity and reporting the codes that accurately describe the work that is done and the products and procedures that are furnished to patients. For this reason, Vertos Medical strongly recommends that you consult with your payers, your specialty society, or the AMA CPT regarding coding, coverage and payment.
Vertos Medical cannot guarantee coding, coverage, or payment for products or procedures. View our Billing Guide.
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Hall S, Bartleson JD, Onofrio BM, Baker HL Jr, Okazaki H, O’Duffy JD. Lumbar spinal stenosis. Clinical features, diagnostic procedures, and results of surgical treatment in 68 patients. Ann Intern Med. 1985;103(2):271-275. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-103-2-271.
Kalichman L, Cole R, Kim DH, et al. Spinal stenosis prevalence & association with symptoms: The Framingham Study. Spine J. 2009;9(7):545-550. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2009.03.005.
Fukusaki M, Kobayashi I, Hara T, Sumikawa K. Symptoms of spinal stenosis do not improve after epidural steroid injection. Clin J Pain. 1998;14(2):148-151. doi:10.1097/00002508-199806000-00010.
Mekhail N, Costandi S, Nageeb G, Ekladios C, Saied O. The durability of minimally invasive lumbar decompression procedure in patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis: Long-term follow-up [published online ahead of print, 2021 May 4]. Pain Pract. 2021;10.1111/papr.13020. doi:10.1111/papr.13020
Friedly JL, Comstock BA, Turner JA, et al. Long-Term Effects of Repeated Injections of Local Anesthetic With or Without Corticosteroid for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Randomized Trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017;98(8):1499-1507.e2. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2017.02.029
Pope J, Deer TR, Falowski SM. A retrospective, single-center, quantitative analysis of adverse events in patients undergoing spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication using a novel percutaneous direct lumbar decompression strategy. J Pain Res. 2021;14:1909-1913. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S304997
Pryzbylkowski P, Bux A, Chandwani K, et al. Minimally invasive direct decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis: impact of multiple prior epidural steroid injections [published online ahead of print, 2021 Aug 4]. Pain Manag. 2021;10.2217/pmt-2021-0056. doi:10.2217/pmt-2021-0056
Abstract presented at: American Society of Pain and Neuroscience Annual Conference; July 22-25, 2021; Miami Beach, FL.
Mobility Matters: Low Back Pain in America, Harris Poll Survey, 2022. View data and full summary at knowyourbackstory.com.