After surgery, John can now sleep and sit comfortably
On the morning after his spine surgery, John was up early and already on his feet when Dr. Lauren Ostling entered his hospital room.
"She was surprised because I was already up and walking," John recalled. "She said, 'Well, I guess you're ready to go home.'"
Dr. Ostling, the Mayfield Brain & Spine neurosurgeon, had operated on John's back the day before, fusing two of the vertebrae together at the L5-S1 levels of his spine. Called an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, or ALIF, the procedure allows the surgeon to access the lower levels of the spinal cord through an incision in the abdomen.
John's surgery was designed to correct spondylolisthesis, a condition where one vertebra slips onto the vertebra below it, pinching the nerves. Spondylolisthesis affects more than 5 percent of the population, and many of them don't suffer symptoms and don't know they have it.
John, however, suffered severe pain in his lower back for nearly two years, starting in late 2021. He said the pain was worst when he was sitting or lying down. When he was standing or walking, he didn't suffer nearly as much, and he didn't feel numbness or tingling in his extremities.
He was connected to Mayfield by his primary care physician.
"It was getting so bad that I couldn't get out of bed" or sit in his favorite recliner, John said. Months of chiropractic care, physical therapy and pain injections didn't provide long-term relief.
Dr. Ostling said that, despite his unusual presentation, high-resolution images of John's spine made it clear that surgery provided the clearest path to easing his pain and restoring full function.
"John had tried the full range of conservative measures to help him manage the pain, but the severity of the disorder in his lower spine was not going to get better," she said. "We talked about managing the symptoms, and John made the decision to proceed with surgery."
Three days after the surgery, John was sitting and walking freely without his pain medication. He soon got back to work as a cabinet maker, his back pain nearly gone.
"I was done putting up with the pain," he said. "Deciding to go ahead with surgery is probably the best thing I've ever done. I wish I would have done it sooner."
~ Cliff Peale
Hope Story Disclaimer -"John'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.