April 16, 2018

Minimally invasive back surgery relieves patient’s leg pain from scoliosis

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories


Linda Rhoads dealt with pain in her leg for years following an injury. It was only when coming to OrthoIndy that Linda learned the main problem was actually leg pain from scoliosis.

Read on to hear Linda’s story and learn how back surgery has helped relieve her leg pain from scoliosis and give her back her active lifestyle.

A life consumed by pain

Two years after Linda Rhoads initially fell and hurt her back, she was still experiencing a lot of pain. A doctor told Linda that she had torn a muscle in her right leg during the fall and would have to take pain medication until the muscle tear healed.

However, the pain refused to alleviate, and as time went on, Linda got to the point where she could not use her right leg without a walker and was having a difficult time sleeping. However, the doctor couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with Linda and just prescribed more pain medication for her leg pain from scoliosis.

Even with the pain medication, Linda still couldn’t do her daily tasks or even bathe herself. She spent most of her time sitting in a lounge chair or bed and used a walker to walk only a few feet at a time.

Linda and her husband Larry were desperate for help and refused to give up. Finally, they met with an orthopedic specialist who looked at her MRI and urged Linda to make an appointment with a spine surgeon.

Unfortunately, the first spine surgeon Linda visited wasn’t confident that he could help her. Linda and Larry left her appointment disappointed and called their primary care physician and begged him for another option

Ultimately, they decided they wanted to make an appointment with OrthoIndy.

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Surgery to relieve Linda’s leg pain from scoliosis

OrthoIndy spine surgeon Dr. Kevin O’Neill took Linda’s case. After Dr. O’Neill looked at Linda’s X-ray, he showed her and Larry what was causing Linda’s right leg pain. But this time, there was a solution; however, it required surgery.

“Linda had pain for such a long time in that leg and was getting nowhere. The underlying issue was scoliosis in her lumbar spine or spine curvature. This condition was causing compression on one of her nerves and ultimately causing her symptoms of leg pain from scoliosis. Her condition was more apparent on her X-rays standing up as opposed to her MRI when she was laying flat on her back,” Dr. O’Neill says.

“As a result, the nerve compression on her MRI was not as obvious as it otherwise would be. It just takes a little extra time and consideration, but you have to get the correct diagnosis to have any hope of offering the best treatment.”

After deciding there wasn’t another option if Linda wanted to return to a normal life, Larry and Linda opted for scoliosis back surgery.

“I had started to think about a nursing home for Linda, yet I kept thinking someone must know what is wrong and how to fix Linda’s leg pain from scoliosis—that turned out to be Dr. O’Neill,” Larry says.

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Back surgery recovery

After surgery, Linda has never experienced the same leg pain from scoliosis, and she was immediately able to walk again.

Determined to get back to her normal life, she spent time slowly regaining her strength. Over time, Linda was able to stop taking all pain medication as well.

“We live in the far southwestern part of Indiana and both Dr. O’Neill and his assistant, Eric, took this into consideration by maintaining contact and urged us to call if needed,” Larry says. “Linda is now free of any pain medications and doing well.”

“Linda underwent a newer minimally invasive procedure to relieve her nerve compression and stabilize the vertebrae,” Dr. O’Neill says. “Using these modern techniques, I can avoid extensive muscle dissection, which means less post-operative pain and a faster recovery. I couldn’t be happier for Linda to get back out there and start enjoying her life again after she suffered from leg pain from scoliosis.”

Now, Linda is able to drive by herself, which she wasn’t able to do before surgery. She has also returned to shopping, going to church, doing housework, and cooking, something Linda couldn’t imagine doing prior to surgery with Dr. O’Neill.

But Linda hasn’t stopped there. She also wants to travel to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to visit an old high school friend and enjoy time in the Smoky Mountains. Linda and Larry also plan to go to Nashville, Tennessee where they went on their honeymoon in 1966.

“Linda and I both think OrthoIndy provided the best surgery, treatment, and follow-up possible under Dr. O’Neill’s care. If we ever hear of anyone having leg pain from scoliosis or a back problem, we will gladly recommend OrthoIndy, especially Dr. O’Neill,” Larry says.

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