Donald was on the job when he heard a pop in his back followed by throbbing pain in his lower back. He went to his doctor later the same day find out what was causing his pain symptoms. Donald’s back pain had started radiating into his left glute and down into his knee. The doctor took XRays and suggested that Donald get some rest. He also suggested some anti-inflammatories to help with the pain symptoms.
As the days and weeks went by, Donald found that his symptoms not only lingered but continued to worsen. He again went to his doctor and over the course of more than a year, Donald was referred to multiple specialists, including a pain management doctor and a neurosurgeon. During this time, Donald tried injection therapy to help relieve his symptoms — but the injections did not help. He found the most relief from his symptoms when he laid on his right side.
Unfortunately, Donald’s condition continued to worsen; he could no longer stand straight and even walking with a cane was becoming impossible. He was ultimately referred to Dr. Gus Varnavas for a second opinion.
Donald went to his appointment with Dr. Varnavas, a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, and was immediately impressed with the neurosurgeon’s demeanor. “He was a doctor you could really talk to and he made me feel comfortable immediately,” Donald remembers. After reviewing Donald’s most current diagnostic films, Dr. Varnavas talked with Donald about the treatment options for his spine problem. Because Donald had tried non-surgical treatment for over a year, Dr. Varnavas talked with him about surgical options, including Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Together they discussed the spine surgery that would be necessary to treat his spine condition. “The vertebral discs in Donald’s spine had weakened and resulted in the disc collapsing. When discs collapse the vertebrae above and below becomes misaligned. Damaged discs can lead to pinched nerves and result in back pain and leg pain,” Dr. Varnavas summarizes.
Dr. Varnavas performed the TLIF procedure and the surgery was successful. Following his surgery, Donald started physical therapy to help regain the muscle strength lost in his spine and legs due to months of inactivity. He continues with physical therapy today and is noticing improvements in the distances he can walk. He looks forward to seeing more improvements in his activity level. Best of all — Donald no longer has the constant back and leg pain that had become a way of life.
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