Leon's Story
 Leon's story: Healing without surgery

Leon was assisting his 101-year-old father when the older man's weight shifted unexpectedly.

"He moved the wrong way, and he slipped his weight on me," Leon recalls. "Instead of dropping him, I pulled my back. It was like a freak accident. And he did it twice in one day."

Leon, a retired auto worker who built cars in the skilled trade division, didn't pay much attention at first. But the pain grew worse. He had trouble walking. His foot began to drag. He had shooting pain – sciatica – that radiated down his leg. "My back wouldn't let me walk or sleep at night," Leon says.

Leon went to see his doctor, who advised, "I think you need to go to Mayfield."

Leon made an appointment and scheduled x-ray and MRI scans of his lower back. In late 2017 he met with Katherine Walters, PA-C, a physician assistant at Mayfield Brain & Spine. When he entered the examination room, his scans were visible on the computer monitor.

After greeting Leon, Ms. Walters showed him the source of his pain -- a large disc herniation at L5-S1. She explained that with conservative treatment, the herniation might heal on its own. If it did not heal, Leon would probably need surgery.

Leon was more than happy to try conservative treatment and join the vast majority of Mayfield spine patients – 80 percent -- who get better without surgery. He began physical therapy and had two epidural steroid injections in his lower back. The injections, designed to reduce pain by calming the inflamed spinal nerve, were delivered five weeks apart by Donald Carruthers, MD, a physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist at Mayfield.

When Ms. Walters saw Leon again in the spring, he was doing well – and still avoiding surgery. "We had weaned him off all medications because he was doing so well," she says. "His large disc herniation had completely healed up."

About a year after his initial injury, Leon began developing symptoms in another part of his lower back. He returned to see Ms. Walters, who diagnosed his condition as an inflammation of the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which is located where the hips connect to the base of the spine. Ms. Walters prescribed physical therapy and an SI joint injection.

"The pain isn't as bad as it was," Leon says. "It's in a different location. And Katie told me what to do. I think I'll be fine."

Is he happy with the care he's received at Mayfield?

"Yes," Leon says, with a smile. "That's why I'm back here."

~Cindy Starr

>> more hope stories

Hope Story Disclaimer -"Leon'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.

 

share
Leon's spine imaging

Leon's herniated disc at L5-S1.

After greeting Leon, Ms. Walters showed him the source of his pain -- a large disc herniation at L5-S1. She explained that with conservative treatment, the herniation might heal on its own. If it did not heal, Leon would probably need surgery.

 

Related links:

Herniated lumbar disc

Epidural steroid injection

Physical therapy

Mayfield Blog: Mayfield's mid-level practice providers enhance patient care with extra pair of eyes, ears and hands