4-level SED patient

Dr. Yeung,

I am a former patient on which you performed a 4-level SED back in June of 2000. I really appreciate all that you did for me back then, and I hope that the years since then have been kind to you. I noticed that your son has joined the practice. That must be very satisfying for both of you!

I wasn’t as bad off as many of your patients before surgery, but I was an extremely active individual and my back pain was preventing me from doing the things I most loved. I opted for surgery hoping to return to an active lifestyle.

I was not disappointed. Although rehabilitation took a bit longer than I might have liked I was indeed able to become far more active than before surgery. In fact I was able to participate in a 500-mile bike ride (on which I met my wife!) and was able to return to low-impact sports such as tennis and ultimate Frisbee. I was quite satisfied with this outcome as it enable me to get outside, run around, and regain my previous level of physical (and mental) fitness doing activities I enjoyed.

Over the last couple of years I have begun to encounter more pain and limitations in my activities again. This outcome has almost exactly matched your prognosis and gives me a great deal of confidence in your understanding of the nuances of spinal conditions and likely outcomes of surgery.

In my post-op exam you warned me that I should take good care of my back because spare parts wouldn’t be available for at least ten years. I have been following the progress of artificial discs, and noticed that you are presently participating several clinical trials. It seems like your 10-year prediction is just about on course too.

My worst pre-op Oswestry score was probably just over 50. After surgery I returned to a score of about 10 for several years, which I consider a satisfactory place to be for me.

Unfortunately I have drifted up to a score of about 20 over the past 6 months since a particularly bad episode which pushed me into the 80s for a week or so. My guess is that I injured my back again at that time, and it will now be difficult to return to an Oswestry score of 10 again for any significant length of time.

I spend about half the time walking naturally and going through a typical work day with only mild back pain and none-to-mild leg pain. The other half of the time I am leaning over to one side while standing or walking and have moderate back and leg pain.

I sense that I am far from being ready for surgery of any kind, much less artificial disc surgery. I did, however, want your impression of the current state-of-the-art in treatment of DDD. I am still very healthy and willing to go through almost any amount of physical therapy and post-operative pain for the hope of returning to a sustainable long-term level of physical activity.

Is there hope?

- S.M.
San Diego, CA

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