Rachel's story: 'Amazed' after minimally-invasive back surgery
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Rachel Kane enjoys an active lifestyle. She lives on a farm in northeastern Wisconsin. She loves gardening, running, yoga and “chasing after her three kids.”
That is, until intense back pain sidelined her off and on for almost two years.
“There was no injury, no accident, nothing that happened where I could pinpoint what triggered the first episode,” Rachel says. “I couldn’t sit straight, I could hardly walk … the pain would almost bring me to my knees.”
Rachel’s care team recommended physical therapy, heat, ice and pain medication as needed.
After a few weeks the pain would go away, but the same sequence would recur every few months.
“I was doing yoga, I was doing stretching, I was doing all the things they recommended you do when you have backpain, but it was almost like clockwork,” she says. “Every few months it would return.”
When the pain returned in April 2019, Rachel also noticed numbness in her left leg.
“That was new for me, and somewhat worrisome,” she says.
Rachel had a routine follow-up scheduled with her doctor at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. She mentioned her back pain and the numbness in her leg. Her doctor advised her to return home and rest.
If the pain didn’t subside in a week, they would order an MRI.
The pain got worse. A week later, Rachel couldn’t walk.
Her doctor scheduled her for an MRI late on a Wednesday. By Thursday, she had returned to Aurora BayCare Medical Center for surgery.
“Her doctor recognized the problem on the MRI and got in touch with my office almost immediately,” says Dr. Wesley Griffitt, a BayCare Clinic neurosurgeon.
Rachel had a large herniated disc in the lowest part of her back that to some extent had already damaged a nerve, Griffit says.
A herniated disc can occur because of injury, but that isn’t always the case.
“In Rachel’s case, we didn’t have an obvious cause of her herniated disc,” Griffitt says. “Many herniated discs don’t need surgery. In fact, most of them don’t. In this case we recognized how debilitating the pain and numbness was for her and decided that surgery was ultimately necessary.”
Dr. Griffitt performed a minimally-invasive lumbar microdiscectomy on Rachel, removing the disc that was putting pressure on her nerve.
Rachel spent the night in the hospital, and by the next morning she was up and walking without pain.
“I was amazed,” Rachel says. “I remember calling my husband and telling him that I had just walked to the bathroom on my own. I didn’t need help. I didn’t need to call the nurse. It was amazing. Literally, the day before, I was crawling across my floor because I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t even get dressed.”
Rachel increased her activity levels over the next few weeks. Today, she’s back to her active lifestyle with no back pain.
“It’s truly remarkable,” Rachel says. “I am so grateful for the team here at Aurora BayCare. The collaboration (between departments at Aurora BayCare) is fantastic. They all talk to one another, they all collaborate together it’s important as a patient to know that you have all of these specialists looking out for your entire well-being.”
Aurora BayCare Medical Center is a certified DNV-GL Spine Surgery Center of Excellence.