LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — An army veteran spent more than eight years living with life-altering pain from spine damage he suffered in Iraq. Doctors kept telling him he was too young for surgery to fix the problem, so he just lived with pain and numbness. He gained weight and lost mobility until his wife gave him the number of a spine surgeon who changed his life.
Jim Schneiter did two tours in Iraq. Carrying loads that weighed more than he did strained his back. Then in 2006, he ran over an improvised explosive device with his Humvee.
“And it lifted the front of the Humvee up and slammed it back to earth.” Schneiter explained to Ivanhoe.
Schneiter came home with back pain that got worse. He couldn’t stand for more than fifteen minutes.
Schneiter said, “It was like a really deep achiness, like a really bad pain. Anything longer than that turned into a sharp sensation running up and down my legs.”
Doctors at the VA told him surgery wasn’t an option. So he did physical therapy and took Vicodin for years. Then K. Rad Payman, MD, Board Certified Spine Surgeon proposed anterior lumbar interbody fusion.
“We were able to go in from the front, open up this disc space, remove all the remnant discs that was there, already degenerated and was causing him pain.” Dr. Payman, explained.
Dr. Payman says going in from the front was the right choice because of Schneiter’s severe disc collapse.
Dr. Payman continued, “You’re not cutting through any muscles, you’re moving all the abdominal contents over, and you’re really getting to the source of all the pain, which was the disc.”
“A week later, I was walking at a pretty normal pace, and then after that, was like I never had surgery.” Schneiter said.
Schneiter says now that he’s pain-free, he’s can play with his kids again and get back to work building remote-control vehicles for navy testing.
Schneiter continued, “I’m just happy that he gave me my life back.”
Dr. Payman says it wasn’t a bad thing for Schneider’s doctors to want to try other treatments before doing surgery, since surgery’s not guaranteed to work. He says anyone who’s considering spine surgery should exhaust all non-surgical options first. Look for a board-certified doctor and make sure he or she is up on the latest cutting-edge treatments.
Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Photographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
SPINE SURGERY CHANGES VETS LIFE
BACKGROUND: The second most common reason behind the common cold for trips to family physicians is low back pain. Regardless of treatment, most improve within six weeks. Treatment options to ease symptoms may include medications, physical therapy, or injections. Surgery may be an option for those who do not improve after six to 12 weeks. There are different surgical options available depending on the cause of the pain. Lumbar or spine surgeries are any surgeries performed in the lumbar spine, lower back, or between any L1-S1 levels. There are two types of surgeries that are normally performed: lumbar decompression which consists of relieving pain caused by a nerve root pinching; and lumbar fusion to stop the pain at a painful motion segment in the lower back. In decompression surgery a small portion of bone over the nerve root is removed to stop pinching and provide room for the nerve to recover. Spinal fusion surgery uses a bone graft to stop painful motion in the vertebral segment decreasing joint pain. In 2011, spinal fusion procedures were listed as a main hospital procedure since over 450,000 of these were performed that year. Spinal decompressions accounted for 12.5% of all procedures in 2011 as well.
(Sources: http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/lumbar-spine-surgery & http://www.boneandjointburden.org/2014-report/iie0/spine-procedures & http://www.mayoclinic.org/back-surgery/ART-20048274)
ALIF: Anterior lumbar interbody fusion, also known as ALIF, is a procedure utilized for patients who are suffering from back pain for degenerative spine conditions. This procedure is unique since it consists of getting to the source of the problem from the front of the body through the abdomen instead of the lower back. Using a three to five inch incision the abdominal muscles and contents can easily be retracted with no need for cutting. After reaching the degenerative disc, an implant called a cage is placed in order to replace it. Months after the surgery, the natural bone heals together through and alongside the cage, creating one long bone between the vertebrae and immobilizing that segment of the spine.
OPTIONAL NON-INVASIVE TREATMENTS: Out of the 56 million Americans who suffer from back pain, only 5% need surgery. Since spine surgery can be very risky and complicated, Dr. Payman says try non-surgical treatments before jumping into the procedure to see if the pain is relieved. Medications, manual manipulation by a chiropractor, heat or ice, and therapeutic massages and exercise are options that can help to reduce back pain.
Spinal Stenosis for Increased Risk:
* For More Information, Contact:
K. Rad Payman, MD
5363 Balboa Blvd., Suite 445
Encino, CA 91316
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