December 9, 2013

Back surgery helps patient remain a teacher

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories

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

Relentless back pain

Patti Mason taught chemistry and physics and had to be on her feet all day long. She suddenly began having intense pain down her leg and lower back in the spring of 1997.  Patti is the type of teacher who likes to interact with her students; therefore sitting down throughout the day was not an option.  The pain was so extreme that she had to tell her students not to worry if she were to collapse in the middle of class.

Another doctor recommended that she visit Dr. Michael Coscia, an OrthoIndy spine surgeon. An MRI revealed that Patti had spinal stenosis. Dr. Coscia suggested having a laminectomy done immediately. A laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

Patti thought she would be pain free forever, but in early 2010, Patti began having excruciating sciatic pain.  This type of back pain extends from the lower back down the back of each leg.  Patti was having so much pain with walking, she was limited in her daily activities.

“Sightseeing, hiking, even a trip to the grocery store was painful after a few minutes of walking,” said Patti.  “I’d have to sit down and rest to ease the pain.  It really hindered my ability to travel overseas to visit historical places, which I love to do.”

Pros and cons of back surgery

Back surgery – again

Patti decided to go back to Dr. Coscia to have an Anterior/Posterior lumbar fusion of L3, L4 and L5 at OrthoIndy Hospital.  Dr. Coscia had to make two incisions to do the fusion on her spine.  He then removed the degenerated discs and inserted a cadaver bone to replace them. Next, Dr. Coscia inserted two titanium rods and six screws in the vertebral column to hold the spacers in place for the fusion to begin.  He also took a bone graft from Patti’s hip to infuse the area to encourage bone growth.  Finally, the two bones in the spine were permanently joined so that there was no more movement between them.

“Dr. Coscia was a very competent surgeon who took time to listen to my concerns and to discuss things thoroughly with me,” said Patti.  “The week prior to surgery, Dr. Coscia called me to talk about my surgery.  I was touched that he had taken the time to ask about my concerns.”

Patti was concerned about the use of a genetically modified protein in the graft infusion because of her severe food allergies.  Because of this, Dr. Coscia decided to use the bone graft from Patti’s hipbone.  It meant an extra scar, but they were both assured that it would be successful.

Back surgery recovery

“My life has been wonderful as I can now walk miles at a time and play with my grandchildren without the agonizing pain down my leg,” said Patti.  “If I have to stop walking it is because I am out of breath, not because of pain.  I can also do weight-bearing exercises on building bone density and strength.  I am so thankful for what Dr. Coscia and OrthoIndy did for me because I am no longer in pain.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Coscia please call 317.802.2874 or learn more about OrthoIndy spine.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no appointment is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

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.

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Mishay Ellis

By Mishay Ellis

Mishay was the marketing intern for OrthoIndy during Summer 2013. During her internship she wrote a variety of articles and blog posts and aided in social media and media relations tactics for OrthoIndy. Mishay graduated from Ball State University in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

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