August 10, 2017

After back surgery, patient travels the world

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories

This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief

Imagine that you have worked your entire life with plans to retire and travel the world. This is the dream Russell Hanshaw and his wife have had for many years. However, Russell was experiencing back pain that prevented their dream from becoming a reality. Fortunately, OrthoIndy spine surgeon, Dr. Kevin O’Neill was ready to help Russell become pain free again.

It all started in 1990 when Russell had surgery by another physician to repair sciatic nerve pain. The surgery was successful; however, Russell was still experiencing pain. “I was functioning to accomplish needed activity, but it was painful and I was definitely not enjoying life,” said Russell. “I was concerned about further deterioration.”

It wasn’t until November 2016 when Russell developed lower back pain that continued to persist. Russell’s general practitioner treated his back pain, but unfortunately it was not successful and he was referred to a spine surgeon and met Dr. O’Neill.

“My experience at OrthoIndy and with Dr. O’Neill was exceptional. The preliminary exam was potentially muscular, this was concluded after an X-ray and evaluation by a physical therapist due to my range of motion and pain level,” Russell said. “However, Dr. O’Neil insisted on a MRI, as a precaution.”

Cause of back pain

Upon Dr. O’Neill’s review that morning, he called Russell and gave him the results.

“Russell had a severe amount of compression of all of the nerves in his spinal canal. In addition, there was instability between two of the vertebral bones. It was clear after seeing this that he was going to need surgery,” said Dr. O’Neill.

As this came as a surprise to Russell, he was unaware of the severity of his condition or what to do. “Dr. O’Neill recommended immediate back surgery to correct my spine,” said Russell. “Dr. O’Neill and his staff were able to perform the surgery at OrthoIndy sooner than expected.”

Back surgery

Russel’s back surgery consisted of both decompressing the nerves and then stabilizing, or fusing, the two vertebral bones together. Dr. O’Neill relied on modern minimally invasive techniques and state-of-the-art technology to perform the surgery successfully and minimize his post-operative recovery time.

“There are now a number of relatively new techniques available that really minimize the muscle trauma during surgery,” said Dr. O’Neill. “The goal is to reduce pain and speed the recovery, while not jeopardizing the long-term success of the surgery. Russell was a perfect candidate for this minimally invasive approach.”

Post-surgery, Dr. O’Neill spent a great deal of time with Russell’s family explaining the surgery and answering their questions. He then personally checked on Russell frequently.

Pre-Surgery and Recovery Checklist

Back surgery recovery

Now that surgery is over, Russell is feeling much better. “The best part about post-surgery is that I feel well enough that I haven’t even had to take Tylenol for pain,” said Russell. “I still know the fusion and back repair have not fully formed and I am still figuring out what I can and can’t do based on checkups.”

Luckily, Russell and his wife can continue their dream of traveling all over the globe. “My wife and I want to travel. We have worked hard our entire lives, first to get through college, as we put ourselves through school,” said Russell. “We’re retired now and plan to travel Europe and tour the United States. We also want to spend more time at our properties we have back home in Tennessee.”

Dr. O’Neill is happy for Russell and his recovery. “There is nothing better than providing a treatment that allows patients to become pain free and accomplish their goals,” said Dr. O’Neill.

Russell chose OrthoIndy based on its reputation and his former neighbor’s comments. “Our former neighbors are relatives of an OrthoIndy specialist and had talked about their specialists and facilities,” Russell said. “Choosing Dr. O’Neill was easy, just look at his resume. He is well educated and when you meet him in person he is exceptional.”

Friends and family of Russell have noticed a difference in his everyday activities. Russell stands much straighter, which in turn makes him look taller. “The NBA has yet to call, but I’ll keep you posted,” Russell said.

Russell has referred a friend to Dr. O’Neill who was operated on this past May and is having similar success.

“If you give me an hour, I could rattle on about the talent, dedication and professionalism of Dr. O’Neil,” said Russell. “We are incredibly fortunate as a society to have Dr. O’Neill and other doctors that dedicate so much of their lives to training, self education and practice to provide their skills.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. O’Neill, please call 317.802.2429 or learn more about OrthoIndy Spine.

You don’t have to live with back pain. Learn more about how to get relief with our ultimate guide to back pain relief.

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief cover

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief

Find out what's causing your back pain and how you can treat it with OrthoIndy's ultimate guide to healing back pain.

Read the guide

Ashley McGovern

By Ashley McGovern

Ashley is the current PR coordinator for OrthoIndy. Ashley is responsible for all media relations functions and social media strategies. Ashley graduated from Purdue University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and strategic communications with a certificate in entrepreneurship. She has been with OrthoIndy since then.

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