February 18, 2019

Heel surgery, physiatry and back surgery help patient

Foot and Ankle | Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories | Trauma


In August 2016, Sue Wickliff was trimming some vines above her house when she suddenly fell backward off a nine-foot ladder. Immediately, her husband rushed her to the St.Vincent Indianapolis Trauma Center off 86th Street.

Fortunately, OrthoIndy trauma surgeon, Dr. Tim Weber was there when Sue arrived. Dr. Weber determined Sue had fractured her heel and would possibly need surgery once the swelling went down.

Surgery for a broken heel bone

A heel bone fracture, also referred to as a calcaneus fracture, occurs when the heel is crushed under the weight of the body after a fall from a ladder or a car crash. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your injury.

Most often a broken heel requires surgery, which was the case for Sue. A week after her injury, Sue underwent surgery with Dr. Weber. Surgery required plates and screws in Sue’s foot and recovery would be challenging.

“I am self-employed so this accident was quite a blow to my active lifestyle,” said Sue. “Dr. Weber’s staff and the physical therapists at OrthoIndy were all wonderful, encouraging and kept me as positive as possible under the circumstances.”

The Ultimate Guide to Foot and Ankle Injuries

Another setback

Unfortunately, during Sue’s recovery, she developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, an uncommon form of extreme chronic pain that usually affects an arm or leg after an injury.

Fortunately, OrthoIndy physicians work together to treat orthopedic injuries and conditions and Sue turned to Dr. Kevin Sigua, an OrthoIndy non-operative pain management physician who is familiar with this rare condition. Dr. Sigua met with Sue and used injections to treat her pain.

But that wasn’t the end of Sue’s journey with OrthoIndy.


Back pain from a herniated disc

A few months after Sue’s treatment process, she started having pain and numbness in her arms. Her family doctor referred her to OrthoIndy spine surgeon, Dr. Kevin O’Neill.

Dr. O’Neill determined that Sue’s pain and numbness were originating from herniated discs in her neck. Sue would need a spinal fusion to become pain-free again.

“A disc protrusion along with arthritic bone spurs were causing severe nerve compression in her neck, which was causing pain and numbness in her arm. We tried some non-operative treatments first, but unfortunately, her symptoms would not go away,” said Dr. O’Neill.

“So I gave her the option of surgery, in which the disc and bone spurs would be removed in order to relieve the nerve compression. After that, the two vertebral bones would be stabilized with a cage, plate and screws so that they would grow or fuse together. This procedure is called an anterior discectomy and fusion or ACDF.”

Sue was nervous about the spinal fusion and how it would affect her singing voice. She has performed as a jazz vocalist for many years and a spinal fusion would require the procedure to be done through the front of her neck.

“Dr. O’Neill assured me that he would take all precautions to prevent any type of permanent issues. He was kind and caring, explained everything in detail, and I was surprised at how much time he spends with his patients,” said Sue. “Once again I put my trust and confidence in OrthoIndy and the surgery on my spine was performed.”

Recovery after back surgery

After countless visits to OrthoIndy and a team of OrthoIndy specialists working together, Sue was now on the road to recovery.

“Sue’s surgery went smoothly. She was able to go home the same day as her surgery and really never looked back,” said Dr. O’Neill. “By her first post-operative appointment, her symptoms were gone and she was back to singing. I really couldn’t be happier for her.”

Sue experienced immediate relief and was surprised by the speediness of her recovery. Sue’s voice was not affected and the pain and numbness in her arms is completely gone.

“I continually recommend the OrthoIndy team anytime I am asked about the things that I have been through,” said Sue. “Our jazz band “Telos” is very busy, I have returned to my rigorous work schedule and I hate to think what may have happened had we not found the doctors at OrthoIndy.”

Learn more about treatment from a physiatrist at OrthoIndy. 

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 referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

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Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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