Hear from patient Debra S. as she shares how spondylolisthesis treatment at IBJI helped her get back to an active lifestyle.
Like many people, Debra lived with back pain for years. She had discomfort because several of her vertebrae were starting to compress, causing occasional lower back pain and aching in one of her legs.
Keep reading to hear more of Debra’s story, including the extent of her pain, what spondylolisthesis treatments she tried, and how surgery finally helped relieve her back pain.
Pushing Through Increasing Back Pain
Despite her back issues, Debra was determined to stay active and fit. She enjoyed her workouts on the treadmill and with weights. When the pain flared up, she knew exactly what to do. She would pull out a floor mat and do the simple stretches she had learned to alleviate the pain.
“Back pain was just a part of my life, and I had been solving it with exercise,” she explained.
But, that all changed about a year ago when Debra was downsizing to a much smaller home. After months of lifting, packing, and sorting through a lifetime of belongings, her back pain grew severe.
Debra tried oral steroids, which helped at first. However, not long after starting the steroids, she suddenly started to experience excruciating pain.
“The pain was so terrible that I could barely walk,” said Debra. “I was bent over with my elbows down around my knees. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t straighten out my back.”
Debra wound up in the emergency room. She needed an MRI, but her body was so contorted that she had to be sedated for the procedure. She spent four days in the hospital. Doctors tried steroid injections, but the back pain was still intense.
Diagnosis and Spondylolisthesis Treatment
What Debra didn’t know at the time was that she had been born with congenital spondylolisthesis, a condition in which vertebrae slip over one another. She learned of this during her first office visit with spine surgeon Mark Mikhael, MD.
Debra found Dr. Mikhael by searching for spine specialists on the IBJI website. Her previous experiences with other IBJI specialists had been positive, and she was impressed with the reviews Dr. Mikhael’s patients had posted online.
Debra arrived at that first appointment for spondylolisthesis treatment in a wheelchair.
“When I met her, Debra sounded like she was ready to throw in the towel,” recalled Dr. Mikhael, who quickly diagnosed the problem. “Debra’s spine had become acutely unstable. It was malaligned, and her spinal canal was closing, which was compressing the nerves and causing extraordinary pain.”
After Dr. Mikhael explained what was happening in her lower back, Debra asked him if she would be confined to a wheelchair forever. “Oh, no! We can definitely fix this,” he told her. “Spondylolisthesis is not uncommon.”
According to Dr. Mikhael, “a small percentage of the population has it, and many people are unaware that they do. What was different about Debra’s case was that her spine became acutely unstable over a relatively short time.”
Debra’s Stabilization Surgery
Dr. Mikhael recommended a stabilization surgery for Debra as a spondylolisthesis treatment, and she quickly agreed. During the procedure, Dr. Mikhael was able to realign the vertebrae using screws and cages, taking compression off of the nerves. He then stabilized Debra’s spine using connecting rods that would hold her spine in position to help the bones regrow correctly.
Debra’s surgery took place in mid-October. As Dr. Mikhael had promised, she was back to walking within a day of the surgery. By Thanksgiving, she was back on the treadmill.
“Debra has made really remarkable progress,” said Dr. Mikhael. “It’s so gratifying to help a patient go from a place of desperation to reclaiming the life she enjoyed before.”
Debra is pleased that she found Dr. Mikhael. “It’s like I’ve got a bionic back now. Thanks to him, I have zero pain.”
Get Relief From Your Back Pain Today
IBJI’s spine surgeons are here to help provide you with the necessary care for your ailment. Request an appointment to discuss options like spondylolisthesis treatment, and work with our expert team on an individualized approach to your care.