Unfortunately, Pam had also struggled off and on with back pain for many years and tried a variety of treatment options including injections, physical therapy and even had a spine surgery in 2011. The spine surgery relieved her pain symptoms for a while but in February of 2012, Pam began having severe back pain symptoms that made it difficult to walk for longer than 15 minutes.“The pain was more severe on my right side and would radiate down into my leg,” Pam remembers. Simple activities such as grocery shopping and house work were becoming impossible. She went to her doctor for relief and was soon referred to Dr. Gus Varnavas.
At her first appointment with Dr. Varnavas, the neurosurgeon reviewed her medical history and diagnostics. During her appointment, Dr. Varnavas suggested Pam and her husband go for a walk around the block. Upon returning after the short walk, Pam had difficulty walking into the office. Dr. Varnavas was able to see how Pam’s pain symptoms affected her ability to walk. “Dr. Varnavas took the time to sit down with me and my husband to go over my MRI. He explained in detail my treatment options. Because I had already tried spine therapy, including injections and physical therapy, he talked with me about surgical options including the Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure,” Pam says. “We did not feel rushed and Dr. Varnavas gave us the time we needed to ask questions. This helped me to know I was making the right decision for treatment,” Pam adds.
“Pam’s condition required two surgeries, the first would involve a lateral approach, which means the incision is made from the patients side. Making a lateral incision helps avoid cutting into the major muscles of the back. A second surgery to place the hardware that would hold the vertebrae in place was performed two days later,” Dr. Varnavas explains.
Pam was eager to return to her active lifestyle and scheduled the surgeries. Dr. Varnavas performed the staged Lateral Interbody Fusion Surgery and they were successful. She no longer felt the severe back and leg pain that had become a way of life before her surgery. Pam was out of bed walking the day after her surgery. A few days following her surgery she was walking for 15-20 minutes at a time.
Pam attended physical therapy for several weeks to help with her recovery. While in physical therapy she learned custom stretching and strengthening exercises that she still incorporates into her daily routine. Today, she is back to many of her normal activities, including spending time with her grandchildren — all without pain. Pam is looking forward to a trip to visit family in southern California this fall.
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