What is external fixation, and how does it work for low back pain?

With external fixation, doctors implant a device on the outside of the body with screws placed through the spinal column to stabilize the spine. This is done with patients asleep from anesthesia. Patients wear the device for a few weeks, following special care instructions. Then the device is removed.

External fixation was introduced in the 70s to heal broken bones in the spine. Later, it was found to reduce back pain by holding the spine in place. In a recent study, 60 percent of patients had less low back pain while they wore this kind of device.