Christine Frees Herself From Back Pain to Begin
a Modeling Career and Return to Horseback Riding


Back Surgery Cures Herniated Disk

Christine F. suffered from a herniated disk for 16 years.
Over time, the pain grew worse, and she sought the advice of orthopedic specialists. Failing to find a specialist willing to try alternative means of therapy, she visited the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute, where she immediately noticed something was different … and better!

Christine thrived on an active lifestyle. She loved long walks, took yoga classes and had a passion for horseback riding. Her initial herniation put limits on the intensity and length of her workouts. She managed well despite these limitations. But when she reherniated the same problem area, it caused her to give up one activity after another. 

Realizing she needed medical assistance in recovering from the deficits she incurred, she began to consult with various orthopedic specialists to consider her care options. One after another the specialists offered surgery as the only possible solution.

Being holistic herself, Christine wanted to avoid any unnatural means of healing. Four years ago, she began working with Dr. Daniel T. Laich, a neurological surgeon at Swedish Hospital’s Chicago Brain & Spine Institute. She soon discovered what set him apart from other orthopedic specialists.

Dr. Laich acts under a philosophy that surgery should be used as a last resort. Although he saw the potential for surgery to alleviate Christine’s pain and return her to her prior quality of life, he agreed that they should try all other options before committing to a surgical procedure.

“I really believe in his approach,” she said. “I liked that he was more than willing to try natural means of treatment from the start.”

At the advice of Dr. Laich, Christine worked with a physical therapist. The treatment afforded her some relief, alleviating some of the discomfort, but Christine wasn’t entirely satisfied with the result. Though she was able to reduce pain, her injury still kept her from doing the things she loved.          

After several other treatment methods resulted in similar small successes, she returned to Dr. Laich and they agreed that she should undergo a laminectomy, a procedure in which Dr. Laich shaved off the protruding part of her herniated disc. Once again the discomfort was minimized but not eliminated.

It was at this point that the trust Dr. Laich had established with Christine allowed her to consider another procedure that would ultimately produce the results she was seeking. In February 2015, Christine agreed to spinal fusion therapy in the hope of regaining full mobility and the ability to return to the activities she had long since given up.

Following the procedure, Christine felt relief almost immediately. After four months she returned to Swedish Hospital for x-rays which revealed that her back had completely healed. She was given permission to slowly transition back into her active lifestyle.

Christine took full advantage of the gift bestowed upon her through the efforts of the staff at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute. In addition to reincorporating exercise into her daily routine—including returning to yoga and walking five to eight pain-free miles a day—she was able to return to horseback riding, something which had seemed impossible for so long. She was even motivated to pursue dreams she had abandoned in the wake of her injury, like beginning a modeling career.

“I would have never had this procedure with anyone else,” Christine said. “My stay at Swedish Hospital was wonderful, and the staff was phenomenal, kind, and caring. I can’t thank Dr. Laich enough. He gave me my life back. I’m able to finally pursue the things I’ve always wanted to."

Update 4/22: Christine recently returned to the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute for her one-year follow-up appointment with Dr. Laich. She remains pain free, maintains an active lifestyle and recently signed her first contract as a mature lifestyle model. 

Laich, Daniel 250x250Daniel T. Laich, D.O., has nearly 25 years of experience in spine care and neurological surgery. He specializes in therapeutic and minimally invasive spine treatments, including endoscopic and arthroplasty surgeries, as well as spine reconstruction. He was a fellow when he started a study on the Charite artificial disk, and with Rick Fessler, M.D., Ph.D., as he pioneered minimally invasive spine surgery. He continues his academic pursuits both in the U.S. and abroad. His athletic lifestyle provides extra interest in caring for the injured athlete. 

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

By David Modica | Published November 06, 2015
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