September 18, 2019

Spinal fusion allows police officer to remain active

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories


To say Matt Frazier is active would be an understatement. Not only is he a police officer, he’s also a long-distance runner and an energetic family man. Matt didn’t think anything could stop his vigorous lifestyle, but even the most in shape individuals can fall victim to back pain.

In 2015, Matt was in great shape. He was running eight miles without any problems and was focused on running a mini-marathon for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, his training came to a halt when a disc in his back ruptured and caused extreme pain in Matt’s back.

After a referral from his chiropractor, Matt made an appointment with Dr. Gabriel Jackson, a spine surgeon at OrthoIndy.

Microlumbar discectomy

Dr. Jackson determined that Matt had a herniated disc and would need a microdiscectomy surgery in order to relieve the pain he was experiencing. A microlumbar discectomy is performed to remove a small piece of disc material that is pushing on a nerve and causing lower back and leg pain.

After a long talk with Dr. Jackson, Matt agreed that surgery would be necessary.

“Not only is Dr. Jackson beyond skilled, but he has that ability to instantly pull the stress out of the issue,” said Matt. “He has a way about himself that makes you comfortable. I knew surgery would have to be done. I knew it would be a long road to recovery and I knew it was going to be painful afterward. But I knew without a doubt I had the right person to do it. I knew he was confident and would do what was absolutely the best thing for me.”

Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief

Spinal fusion surgery

After surgery, Matt struggled to find his way back to his regular active lifestyle but after some hard work and determination, Matt had his running shoes back on.

However, this wasn’t the end of his relationship with Dr. Jackson and OrthoIndy. In 2018, Matt was again doing a training program to run a mini-marathon when his back pain returned. Matt felt completely defeated.

Not only was Matt unable to complete a mini-marathon for the second time in his life because of back pain, but his role as a police officer had also become difficult.

“I suffered through the pain at work and would come home to ice my back and rest after the wear and tear from wearing a police duty belt and all the tasks that come with the job,” said Matt. “I eventually purchased a ‘brace’ called the Backup Brace which spreads the weight of the duty belt across a larger surface and also limiting the movement of my back in uniform.”

However, Matt’s back pain would not subside. In fact, it only got worse as Matt started experiencing sharp pain in the small of his back that radiated across his hip and down his leg.

“Depression set in as I continued to gain weight, lose strength, lose sleep and feel like I could do very little with my family,” said Matt. “The constant stabbing, burning and pain felt in my back down my legs and across my hip were taking a toll on me emotionally and physically.”

This isn’t completely unusual for an active person to experience after a microlumbar discectomy.

“With the pressure off of the nerve, people feel much better,” said Dr. Jackson. “But unfortunately, removing the disc herniation does not prevent the disc from continuing to degenerate, and it is possible for patients to develop more lower back pain down the road.”

With the support of his wife, kids and close friends, Matt returned to Dr. Jackson. After analyzing Matt’s most recent X-rays, Dr. Jackson suggested lumbar fusion surgery to correct Matt’s back pain.

“The goal of lumbar fusion surgery is to trick your body into thinking that two or more bones are actually one broken bone. The body will then heal the bones together, just like it would heal the two halves of a broken arm,” said Dr. Jackson.

“The fusion provides a more stable environment for the nerves and can help with pain from that level of the spine. Fusion surgery is not for every patient, but for Matt, it was the best option.”

Matt agreed with Dr. Jackson that surgery was again, the best option and together they came up with a treatment and recovery plan.

“Dr. Jackson doesn’t beat around the bush and gets right to the point, which I respect. He also makes sure it is a mutual decision when it comes to treatment,” said Matt. “Not only before but especially after surgery. Dr. Jackson made sure I had enough time off of work to recover and heal properly. As I recovered, he knew I didn’t have a normal job and would need more time to recover in order to do my daily tasks as a police officer; we cannot just go right back to work without being 100% just like an athlete on the field and Dr. Jackson respected that.”

What can I expect after a spinal fusion?

After surgery, Matt is finally pain-free again. He plans to get back in peak shape and finally run that mini marathon he has been dreaming of running.

“I feel amazing after surgery. Dr. Jackson and all of the staff at OrthoIndy are amazing,” said Matt. “From the first encounter in 2015, to current has been simply great. I actually refer people to OrthoIndy constantly. Anybody that I came into contact with made me feel important to them.

I hate that I had to come in but I am glad that since I had to, I chose the absolute best doctor and he had the absolute best staff.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jackson please call 317.802.2886 or learn more about treatment options for neck and back pain 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.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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