Shawn's Story
 Shawn's story: Artificial cervical discs

The pain was bad. The itching was driving him to despair.

For Shawn, an ultra-marathoner from central Ohio, the misery began with a visit to a new chiropractor in January 2017. Afterwards, Shawn was unable to run. He began to lose feeling in his hands. Numbness radiated from his jaw. He had terrible headaches. Occasionally, his legs gave out.

And he began to itch.

It was the itching that finally drove him to a doctor. He scheduled an appointment with a Columbus dermatologist, who made an unexpected diagnosis: severe cervical stenosis and neuropathy. Deteriorating discs in Shawn's neck, aggravated by aggressive chiropractic care, were causing serious pinching of the adjacent nerve roots and spinal cord.

Complications included a chronic "neuropathic itch," caused by malfunctioning itch-sensing neurons. The dermatologist advised Shawn to see a neurosurgeon. "The itching was driving me crazy," Shawn recalls.

Shawn turned to the Internet and began shopping. He settled on William Tobler, MD, a neurosurgeon with Mayfield Brain & Spine. Dr. Tobler told Shawn that ruptured discs at C5-C6 and C6-C7 had caused stenosis in his neck. The stenosis was so severe that Shawn needed surgery to remove the discs, which were compressing and damaging his spinal cord. He would get two new artificial discs during the procedure, called cervical disc arthroplasty.

Before

After

After - flexed

The 2-hour surgery took place in October 2018 at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health. Dr. Tobler made an incision in the front of Shawn's neck and then carefully removed the collapsed and herniated discs and disc fragments, creating two clean, open spaces. He then implanted the two artificial discs, anchoring them to the vertebrae above and below. The discs, made from a metal alloy and durable plastic, are designed to provide stability while allowing flexibility in the neck.

Three months later, Shawn, who has run the Boston Marathon three times and performed several 100-mile trail runs, was feeling like his old self again.

"I have been running," Shawn says. "It's hard to stop me, and everything is working a lot better. The numbness is gone; the tingling in my jaw is gone. The itching in my arms has stopped. I haven't had any problem with my legs going out from under me." On the agenda: a 100-mile run in Florida and a 213-mile bike ride across Michigan.

~Cindy Starr

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Hope Story Disclaimer -"Shawn's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.

 

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"The numbness is gone; the tingling in my jaw is gone. The itching in my arms has stopped. I haven't had any problem with my legs going out from under me." ~ Shawn

 

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Spinal Stenosis