Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Patient Stories – Faith


First Name: Faith
Age: 77
General Occupation: Retired Educator
Diagnosis: Lumbar Stenosis L3-4, L4-5
Type of surgery: Laminectomy and Fusion L3-4, L4-5
Time after surgery: 1 year

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Before surgery I was experiencing severe pain in my lower back.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: I feel much better now that I am free from that terrible and am enjoying my normal activities.

Q: Are you active in any sports?
A: I have returned to all of my normal activities.

Patient Stories – Lisa


First Name: Lisa
Age: 86
General Occupation: Retired registered nurse
Diagnosis: Cervical Stenosis, Myelopathy, Radiculopathy C4-5, C5-6, C6-7
Type of surgery: Cervical Laminoplasty, Foraminotomies C4-5, C5-6, C6-7
Time after surgery: 1 year and 2 months

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Continuous, severe disabling pain across shoulders and down left arm.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: Fine! Full use of both arms. No more pain.

Q: Are you active in any sports?
A: I don’t do sports, but I can do gardening, housework and normal living.

Patient Stories – Reginald


First Name: Reginald
Age: 79
Occupation: Retired
Diagnoses: Lumbar spinal stenosis, Sciatica, Radiculopathy L3-4, L4-5
Type of Surgery: Laminectomy and Fusion L3-4, L4-5
Time After Surgery: One year

Q. What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A. Sciatic pain down the rear of both legs all through 2005.

Q. What impact did this have on your life?
A. I couldn’t do any chores around my house or yard. I felt it was a “lost” year.

Q. How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A. Like a new person!

Q. How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A. The surgery eliminated the sciatic pain. I feel my quality of life has been restored.

Q. Have you returned to work / school?
A. Since I am retired, this does not apply.

Q. Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A. Not completely – hope to do more.

Q. If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A. No and Yes.

Q. What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A. I would advise anyone wanting to improve their quality of life to consider it seriously.

Q. How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A. Dr. Nelson is an outstanding spinal surgeon and fine person as well. His manner is direct – yet very reassuring. I feel fortunate to have had him as my surgeon.

Patient Stories – Larry


First Name: Larry
Age: 66
Occupation: Health Care
Diagnoses: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, Sciatica, Radiculopathy
Type of Surgery: 1. Lumbar Laminectomy
2. Revision Lumbar Laminectomy

Time After Surgery: 1. Two years
2. One year

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Left leg and back pain, numbness left leg.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: I was unable to work because of the pain.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: My leg is pain free and I have been able to return to work.

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: I feel a 100% better without the pain.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Yes – back to work.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: Yes, walking and bicycle riding.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: Yes, I would have the surgery. I would try to get the surgery done sooner.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: If you have a disc problem like mine – GET IT FIXED.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: Kind, caring and understanding – Thank you, Dr. Nelson.

Patient Stories – Theodore


First Name: Theodore
Age: 70
Occupation: Dentist
Diagnoses: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis L1-2, L2-3, L3-4, and L4-5
Type of Surgery: Lumbar Laminectomy L1-2, L2-3, L3-4, and L4-5
Time After Surgery: Two years

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: For 3-4 years, before surgery, there was worsening and increasing low back stiffness and pain with only a little twisting or turning. In the past three to four months, before surgery I suffered numbness of my legs and shots of pain to my feet and toes. There was even instability in standing and walking.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: It took me totally out of my practice of dentistry, but I was not ready to see my quality of life reduced to a recliner or a wheelchair. I couldn’t even do my yard work at home for any length of time.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: I returned to my office, I practice dentistry 3 days a week with no restriction in movement. I can do my gardening and yard work with paying attention to lifting and time of work.

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: I could not have imagined the 98% improvement possible – and with no need for pain medication. I do take Advil and Tylenol occasionally and hot showers to relax the muscles along with stretching. At two years after surgery I take time to remember (how) it used to be – and I am most grateful now.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Yes. Return to work began gradually about four months after surgery. I am able to work full time now, although I decided to work three days per week instead of four days per week as I used to. This I do to perhaps keep my fears at a minimum – although I could work five days a week!

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: At 73 now, I exercise at home doing my stretching, walking, and back strengthening physical therapy. My goal is to be able to get back to Zion National Park and hike.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: Yes and yes. I would have sought treatment sooner and I know surgery would absolutely be, for me, the only the choice.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: Do not fear surgery as compared to living with increasing disability and eventual total loss of your quality of life. My decision was based on a complete presentation of my options and risks and accept the prognosis of those options.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: He understood my wants and needs for my return to normal life and brought his expertise to my problem. As a fellow health professional, I see this man as a gift to his specialty. Showing his great degree of confidence was equally visible in his personal concern for me.

Patient Stories – Walker


First Name: Walker
Age: 57 years
Occupation: High School Teacher
Diagnoses: Herniated Disc, Stenosis, Sciatica, Radiculopathy L4-5
Type of Surgery: Laminectomy/Discectomy L4-5
Time After Surgery: Two years

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: For about 10 months prior to my first visit to Dr. Nelson, I have been experiencing pain in my left hip. Since I’d fallen years before and abused it with poor baseball pitching form, I just thought it was arthritis. On January 7, 2005, I completed my weekly run and drove home. Once at home, I knew something was wrong. For the next month, I had very severe pain down my left thigh with aching in the ankle and tingling in the foot. By the time I saw Dr. Nelson, the pain was constant, and I could not stand straight upright.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: I didn’t miss any days of work, I KNOW I was not as effective patient as I could/should have been. One weekend in late January, I got a cold. With each sneeze or cough, it felt like my leg was going to explode.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: Now, I have no symptoms. Twice in the past years, I’ve done something to “tweak” my back and have had some pain/muscle contraction in my back. If do too much strenuous physical activity, my toes tingle a bit, which indicates I should have stopped. I have learned the time limits now, so that rarely happens.

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: I have to be more careful now than before, but not that much more careful.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Thanks to my vacation schedule, I missed only two weeks of work during the time of the surgery. I’ve had no problems serious enough to miss work about since.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: Most of my physical activity is on my cross-country ski machine. I can do that just as well as before. I don’t jog anymore, but do “power walks” of 30 to 60 + minutes at least once/week in addition to the ski machine.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: Dr. Nelson was very conservative in his approach. At my first visit, he prescribed a steroid treatment, which was amazing in its pain relief. Then we tried the sciatic nerve injection. Finally, we went with surgery. I’d had L5-S1 fusion as a collegian, so I knew the potential for improvement surgery can offer. I was not really hesitant about surgery, and I will do it again if that becomes necessary.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: Try the alternatives, but don’t dismiss surgery because of someone else’s misadventures. Listen to what the recommended procedure involves, then ask questions about stuff you don’t understand. The difference in my quality of life before and after surgery can best be described as astonishing.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: Dr. Nelson was concerned and honest. He did not push any one agenda. In fact, I suspect he slowed me down in my desire to have surgery. I have recommended him to my friends and will continue to recommend both he and Oasis.

Patient Stories – Charlie


First Name: Charlie
Age: 80
Occupation: Towing and Service Station Owner
Diagnoses: Lumbar Stenosis, Sciatica, Radiculopathy L3-4 and L4-5
Type of Surgery: Lumbar Laminectomy L3-4 and L4-5
Time After Surgery: 18 months

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Right leg down the back with so much pain I could only walk minutes at a time. Back pain constantly.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: Couldn’t walk or play golf without a very lot of pain in the back and leg.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: Hardly any pain at all.

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: Made a different person out of me. Sorry I didn’t have it repaired sooner.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Retired.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: Back to 3 days a week for golf, go to gym three days a week for workouts.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: Absolutely.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: Get it done, the sooner the better.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: Outstanding surgeon – explains everything to the patient.

Patient Stories – Dorothy


First Name: Dorothy
Age: 84
Occupation: Retired
Diagnoses: Lumbar Stenosis, Scoliosis, L2-3, L3-4, and L4-5
Type of Surgery: Laminectomy and Fusion, L2-3, L3-4, and L4-5
Time After Surgery: Four months

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Pain in the back and leg. Walking became very difficult.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: I got so I could not do much of anything. Walking, not at all; climbing stairs – bad.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: Great! No pain!

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: 100% better.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Have been doing most activities.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: Yes. Walking, dancing – twice!

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: I would have had surgery sooner.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: I had not wanted back surgery, but because so painful I decided to have it. I trusted him.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: A very caring, careful man. Compassionate, careful, and a very good surgeon.

Patient Stories – Gloria


First Name: Gloria
Age: 66
Occupation: Homemaker
Diagnoses: Sciatica, Stenosis, Scoliosis, L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1
Type of Surgery: Lumbar Laminectomy and Fusion, L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1
Time After Surgery: 11 months

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Extreme pain in hip and back area. Leg pain so severe I could not walk any distance – left leg from knee to foot. Numbness and my leg felt like it could explode at any minute.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: Restrictions on physical activities, dancing, walking, and golf. My mental state was also compromised after a period of time because of the acute pain.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: WONDERFUL. The first eight months after surgery, I was pain-free. As I started regular activities – housework – walking – exercise, I experienced a mild form of pain, more of uncomfortable in my lower left leg. However, I was able to change position if sitting, rest if walking and the pain goes away. If I sit for an hour or more, I can get a little pain and I move around to eliminate it or lie flat on my back (If the circumstances allow it!)

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: On a scale of 1 to 10, my pre-surgery was 12. I told Dr. Nelson it was worse than having a baby. Now I am about 95% pain-free.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: I am retired, but I have returned to all normal activities – with a few modifications – i.e. cannot swing a golf club all the way around.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: See above answer and also dancing.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: I was so fortunate to have such a wonderful doctor and such great treatment; I would not change one thing. I would choose surgery again and sooner if I had known the outcome.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: Do not wait too long. I was very lucky that I had the results I had. I have been in contact with an old friend in Albuquerque and she is having the same surgery in March 2007. I have told her to trust in your doctor is everything, but be ready to not do anything for several weeks. You will need someone with you so that you can allow a good recovery.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: Absolutely awesome – a positive bedside manner – visit everyday (five days in hospital). Returns phone calls with concern and deeply is concerned about you as his patient.

“Thank you again Dr. Nelson for restoring my life.”

Patient Stories – Laurie


First Name: Laurie
Age: 49
Occupation: First-Grade Aide
Diagnoses: Lumbar Stenosis, Facet Cyst, Radiculopathy, Sciatica
Type of Surgery: Lumbar Laminectomy/Excision of Facet Cyst L4-5
Time After Surgery: 15 months

Q: What symptoms were you experiencing before surgery?
A: Pain and numbness in leg.

Q: What impact did this have on your life?
A: At times I could not walk – I would have to stop and sit to relieve pain/also some urinary leakage.

Q: How are you feeling now after your surgery?
A: Great – no recurrent pain or numbness – occasional lower back pain – which I think is normal after exercise.

Q: How would you compare your current condition with your pre-surgery condition?
A: 100% better – as if I never had a back problem.

Q: Have you returned to work / school?
A: Yes.

Q: Have you returned to recreational activities / sports?
A: Yes – no restrictions.

Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything about your treatment? Would you choose surgery again?
A: No changes except maybe skip physical therapy and go straight to surgery – Yes, I’d pick surgery again.

Q: What words of advice do you have for someone who may be contemplating a similar surgical procedure?
A: Listen to the doctor on advice – what he would do. I felt I had no option – I could not imagine hurting all the time and not being able to take walks – hike, etc. Also Dr. Nelson said I might have problems (permanent) with bladder and my bowels. I certainly did not want that. Get all info about the ‘what ifs’ – and how it could better your quality of living.

Q: How would you describe Dr. Nelson?
A: I have to say I really like Dr. Nelson. I would say he is a gentle, very informative, tells it straight doctor who is very thorough. I like the way he approached the whole situation (even though I mentioned skipping PT before). I liked how he considered all options and tried everything before surgery. He was really good with my husband also – gave us straight answers. I do like Dr. Nelson a lot and would definitely recommend him to anyone. One last thing I liked how Dr. Nelson would ask about me and things in my life, and at times mentioned things about his family! That makes him more human and personable.