Our Very First Total Joint Replacement Patients: 12 Years Later

Our Very First Total Joint Replacement Patients: 12 Years Later

As part of your research on the BalancedBack Total Joint Replacement, you might have visited our patient results page. This page contains data we’ve collected from our various studies—data that is continuously updated.

Patient follow-up is an important part of our process. In fact, I recently took a trip to South Africa to visit three of our very first patients, whose surgeries were done in 2007 and 2008. I wanted to know how they are doing all these years later; so far, the outlook is positive across the board. All three were destined for a fusion but chose the BalancedBack procedure instead, presumably with a much better outcome. Their stories follow:


Our very first patient was Manuel, who was 29 years old at the time of his surgery in 2007. Manuel was a member of the presidential guard and worked with canines—he himself cared for a Rottweiler at home as part of his guard duties. The job required travel and long days (sometimes 16 to 20 hours straight), accompanying the president to various working locations. Overall, Manuel was very active on a daily basis.

At the time we met Manuel, he had been suffering from terrible leg pain due to a ruptured bottom disc. The same disc had herniated previously, and it was determined that he would need a fusion. Manuel was familiar with fusions and didn’t want one, but something had to be done—he was on the verge of losing his job because he couldn’t work, his pain was affecting his relationships, and he even had to give up his Rottweiler. He was an excellent candidate for the BalancedBack Total Joint Replacement, and was treated with a single-level procedure.

Today, Manuel is still working in the presidential guard full time and caring for a labrador retriever. He’s now married to the girlfriend he had twelve years ago and has a daughter. On most days he has no pain. The day before I visited him, he’d worked a 22-hour day. His x-rays looked totally normal, and based on his observed level of activity, his imaging, and his personal testimony regarding his lifestyle and pain levels, it’s clear he’s doing exceptionally well.


Our second patient was employed in the coal industry in an industrial area of South Africa. He was also a competitive cyclist who participated in the Cape Epic, an annual mountain bike race covering more than 400 miles over eight days.

Jaap led an incredibly active lifestyle until his pain began. He had spondylolisthesis (slippage of the vertebra) and some spinal stenosis at L4-L5. He also had disc issues at L5-S1. As with Manuel, Jaap needed to take action: His pain had brought him to the point where he could no longer work or bike, and he was suffering from depression. His wife was a nurse and her experience with fusion was not good, which led them to consider the BalancedBack procedure.

We elected to treat Jaap with a disc replacement at L5-S1 topped off with a BalancedBack construct at L4-L5. About three months after surgery he needed an injection at the site of his disc replacement (where his facet joints had remained untouched and were causing some pain); otherwise, the surgery was totally successful. Jaap participated in another competitive bike ride just four months after surgery, and rides his bike to this day. He is an avid golfer and reports no pain. Like Manuel, his imaging is totally normal and his activities are unrestricted.


Our third patient, Shereen, lives in Cape Town. At the time of her surgery, she was 57 years old and worked as a secretary at her son’s garage. Shereen had undergone several surgeries before BalancedBack, including two discectomies at L5-S1, and it was clear she would need a fusion. Her back pain was interfering with her work and her life, to the point where she could no longer play with her grandkids.

Today, over a decade later, Shereen still works part-time as a secretary at her son’s garage, takes care of her grandson two days a week, and takes her mom out every Sunday—she’s active every day. She does have some pain on occasion, rating it about 2 or 3 on a scale of 0 to 10. Her x-rays indicate that the levels adjacent to her BalancedBack device show a small amount of arthritis, but no more than you’d expect to see in a typical person in their mid-60s. Overall she is very happy with the outcome and is doing well.

Would you like to know whether you’re a good candidate for BalancedBack?

Wonder if your condition would benefit from BalancedBack Total Joint Replacement? If you’ve been told you need a fusion, the procedure could be right for you. Just as hip and knee fusions were rendered obsolete by hip and knee joint replacements, we believe that fusing the lumbar spine will eventually become a thing of the past, with lumbar total joint replacement becoming the gold standard treatment.

If you’re looking for an alternative to fusion, we encourage you to visit our website.

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