Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Cures
Joseph of Debilitating Back Pain


Minimally Invasive Surgery for Back

When a surprise back injury caused debilitating pain and numbness down his right leg, 30-year-old Joseph knew that he needed an expert medical opinion. After undergoing minimally invasive surgery with Dr. Laich at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute, he couldn’t have wished for a better outcome. 

Joseph’s injury began as a mild “twinge” in his right leg. He assumed it was likely a pulled muscle and didn’t think any more of it, until one day when it unexpectedly flared up while climbing stairs, costing him a nasty spill.

“I was walking up a set of stairs when pain shot through my lower back and down my leg,” said Joseph. “It knocked me completely off balance and I fell—luckily, I was going up the steps and not down. As I laid there for a minute, I realized that I had completely lost feeling in my right leg.”

Joseph went to his primary care physician, Ann McDermott, D.O., a board-certified family medicine physician with Endeavor Health Medical Group. An x-ray and MRI discovered the source of the pain was a herniated disk at the bottom of his vertebrae. The disk, his L5-S1, had caused him to develop sciatica

Knowing that medical intervention would be necessary, Dr. McDermott recommended Joseph visit the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute. Due to the intensity of the pain, they were able to expedite seeing him. They decided to operate and were able to schedule the procedure just two weeks later. 

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Joseph. “When I found out I would need back surgery, it was a bit of a shock. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘This is my back. This is not a simple surgery.’”

Daniel Laich, D.O., is a world-renowned board-certified neurosurgeon with Endeavor Health Medical Group known for pioneering minimally invasive spine surgery with procedures such as TESSYS. “Dr. Daniel Laich was amazing,” said Joseph. “He walked me through the whole process. Of course I was still apprehensive with back surgery. You hear the words ‘outpatient back surgery’ and you can’t help but think it’s too good to be true.”

Diagnostic Tests Discover Back Pain

Dr. Laich explained that there were two options for the procedure. The preferred method is to go in through the side and avoid all of the back muscles, but the effectiveness of this method is based on the condition and the individual’s anatomy. In Joseph’s case, Dr. Laich determined going in through the back would be more beneficial.

“They go in with a scope to perform the procedure,” said Joseph. “Dr. Laich grabbed a pen and said, ‘This is how big the incision will be.’ My mom had a similar surgery 10 to 15 years ago and still has a three-inch scar on her back. Times have really changed.”

During the procedure, they shaved away some of the protruding bone in two areas in order to relieve the pressure. The result was an instant relief for Joseph who woke up free from the excruciating pain he had been suffering with for weeks.  

“Five hours after surgery, I walked out of the hospital without any pain,” said Joseph. “Within 48 hours I was back to work, and I work on my feet. I wore a back brace for a week—more or less just to remind myself that I had had back surgery and I shouldn’t overdo it.”

Following a postoperative appointment with Dr. Laich, the last leg of Joseph’s recovery will include outpatient physical therapy at Galter LifeCenter

“The only pain I have had is due to not having been able to use my leg correctly,” said Joseph. “When I walked around I would be using muscles but not feeling them. So basically when I woke up I felt like my leg had run 14 miles without my knowledge. The physical therapy is going to be about stretching that out and getting my muscles back to where they were before the injury.”

What’s perhaps most amazing to Joseph is the quality of treatment and the extent of his recovery. Although hoping for good results from the start, he’s the first to admit he never expected to fully return to the quality of life he knew prior to injury. 

“Obviously when you seek treatment for an injury like this the care team sets a plan and expectation for your recovery,” said Joseph. “They told me I would walk out of here pain free. I was in so much pain that if they took away just five percent of it I would be happy. I set my expectations so much lower than they did, but they were right!”

Laich, Daniel 250x250Daniel T. Laich, D.O., is a neurological surgeon and the Chief of Neurological Surgery with nearly twenty-five years of experience. He specializes in non-surgical, minimally invasive surgical (MIS), endoscopic and major reconstructive spine treatments. His pioneering work has helped gain approval for MIS techniques in the United States. He has ongoing interest in motion preservation technologies, including artificial disk replacement and posterior motion preserving instrumentation, and regenerative technologies. Dr. Laich continues to expand his national and international academic, instructional and surgical efforts with interest in closed head injury, nutrition and alternative therapies.

To schedule an appointment with the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute, please call 773-271-2225.

By David Modica | Published September 6, 2017
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