This health video focuses on a new drug which is available for chronic back pain.
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Jennifer Matthews: For 25 years, life has been a real pain for Bonnie Lupo. Bonnie Lupo: You learn to live with it. I mean, I'm not going to be a couch potato. I'm not going to give up doing the things that I enjoy. I just enjoy doing them a lot less. Jennifer Matthews: She rode her horses through the pain, but last January that stopped when she injured her back again. Bonnie Lupo: I realized just couldn't move. Jennifer Matthews: Bonnie soon found Dr. Marco Pappagallo. Dr. Marco Pappagallo: You feel better when lie down? Jennifer Matthews: He offered Bonnie an infusion of the drug pamidronate, a new option for back pain. Dr. Marco Pappagallo: This drug maybe has the potential of modifying the underlying mechanism of pain. Jennifer Matthews: Pamidronate is normally used to stop bone breakdown in cancer patients. Pappagallo is testing the drug on back pain. His first study showed 91% of patients on the drug had a 41% reduction in pain. Bonnie Lupo: Back, back, back. Jennifer Matthews: No one has confirmed that Bonnie received the drug, but she believes she did, her pain is gone. Bonnie Lupo: I just feel exhilarated when I'm riding now. I'm just, I'm riding and I'm like I can't believe this. Jennifer Matthews: Last year, another new option for back pain hit the scene when the FDA approved the first artificial disc. The movable plastic center aligns the spine and retains its ability to move. Not everyone is a candidate though, it only helps people with bad discs in a specific area of the lower back. Neither pamidronate nor the artificial discs were appropriate for Michael Dobry. Severe arthritis had stopped him in his tracks. Michael Dobry: All of a sudden, I was crippled. I literally just couldn't make it out of bed. If it had been 2,000 years ago and somebody was holding up snakes and wiggling them around and said this is going to cure you, I'd have tried it. Jennifer Matthews: Dr. Neel Anand offered Michael this spine-stabilizing device. It's a promising alternative to spine-fusing surgery. Dr. Neel Anand: If we can get away preserving the disc and provide stability and most importantly make the patient's pain better, I think that's something novel. Jennifer Matthews: In a fusion, rods hold screws together to immobilize the painful segment of the spine. This new device uses flexible cables not rods, which keeps the entire spine mobile and intact. Dr. Neel Anand: We've had patients in two to three days, their pain is gone away. Jennifer Matthews: Michael immediately felt relief. Michael Dobry: A week after surgery, I felt like my life had been handed back to me on a magic platter, actually. I was walking on the beach within a week. Jennifer Matthews: Dr. Anand says, these three new treatments can relieve the pain but warns they're not a cure. For Bonnie and Michael, they're close enough. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.