April 16, 2018

Minimally invasive back surgery allows patient to walk again

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories

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

A life consumed by back pain

Two years after Linda Rhoads initially fell and hurt her back, she was still experiencing a lot of pain. During the fall, Linda was told she had also torn a muscle in her right leg and she 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 was unable to use her right leg without a walker and she was having a difficult time sleeping. However, the doctor couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with Linda and just prescribed her more pain medication.

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.

Need help with pain relief? Visit our OrthoStore to purchase durable medical equipment.

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.

Back surgery

OrthoIndy spine surgeon, Dr. Kevin O’Neill took Linda’s case. After Dr. O’Neill looked at Linda’s X-ray he showed Larry and her what was causing the pain in Linda’s right leg. 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 curvature of the spine. This was causing compression on one of her nerves and ultimately causing her leg symptoms. The scoliosis was more apparent on her X-rays standing up as opposed to her MRI when she was laying flat on her back,” said Dr. O’Neill. “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, and Larry and Linda opted for 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 problem – that turned out to be Dr. O’Neill,” said Larry.

Pros and cons of back surgeryBack surgery recovery

After surgery, Linda has never experienced the same leg pain and she was immediately able to walk again. Determined to get back to her normal life, she spent time slowly regaining her strength. Overtime, 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,” said Larry. “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,” said Dr. O’Neill. “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.”

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 a back problem, we will gladly recommend OrthoIndy especially Dr. O’Neill,” said Larry.

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

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

Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan is the current Marketing Team Lead at OrthoIndy. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor and has been with OrthoIndy since June 2012.

Related Posts

More from OrthoIndy

Retired firefighter undergoes cervical spine surgery

Retired firefighter undergoes cervical spine surgery

During a routine training, John’s commitment to being a firefighter was threatened when he felt a twinge in his upper back. Learn how he found treatment for his back pain.


One-year-old has surgery to repair hip dysplasia

One-year-old has surgery to repair hip dysplasia

After Nora’s parents began worrying when she didn’t start walking they brought her to OrthoIndy where she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and would need surgery.


Patient undergoes back surgery for a herniated disc and finds relief

Patient undergoes back surgery for a herniated disc and finds relief

Back surgery for a herniated disc allows high school athletic director and varsity baseball coach to return to work without back pain.


Get stories and News in your inbox

Subscribe to our weekly articles