"They rolled me into the hospital in a wheelchair, I came out walking, and I’ve been walking ever since. No pain in my legs, no back pain. They let me go back to work for two more years, and I finally retired." --Darrell
Maybe it came from driving a truck for 46 years, sitting in one place for 140,000 miles a year, covering 46 states – all of ‘em except Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Alaska. Or maybe it was just because backbones start to grow old. Whatever the cause, it sure hurt.
"I had all kinds of pain," Darrell recalls from the comfort of his porch swing in rural Indiana. "I worked with it for a couple of years, taking shots and pain pills, and all that stuff. My doctor, Dr. Earl Scheidler, could see the vertebrae closing up on the X-ray. The shots would work for a while, and then the pain would start again."
The time came when Dr. Scheidler said "no more shots." By this time Darrell was really struggling. "I couldn’t stand up and walk and do manual work of any kind," he says. "I couldn’t stand up straight, and I had to bend my knees to walk. I walked bent over. I could barely hobble into the house. I was getting to where I couldn’t work."
Dr. Shidler referred Darrell to Christopher McPherson, MD, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic. Dr. McPherson saw Darrell at Mayfield’s Western Hills office and ordered X-rays on the spot.
Dr. McPherson confirmed that Darrell was suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the bony spinal canal, which can cause crowding of the nerve roots and a variety of symptoms, including pain in the leg or lower back and numbness or tingling in the lower back and legs. Darrell was part of a subset of patients with lumbar stenosis who can reduce their pain by bending forward, which opens up the space in the spine for the nerves.
"I can fix that," Dr. McPherson told Darrell. "I’ll get you back walking again."
Dr. McPherson explained the X-Stop® procedure, in which a tiny titanium implant is placed between the spinous processes, the thin projections from the back of the spinal bones, in the affected area. The implant opens up space and prevents the patient from extending his or her back and putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
Illustrations showing (left) a crowded, painful nerve within a narrowed spinal canal
and (right) the X-Stop® Spacer enlarging the canal and reducing pressure upon the nerve.
Darrell decided to have the procedure and was scheduled for outpatient surgery at Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital. The minimally invasive spine procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes, about as much time as a tonsillectomy.
"They rolled me into the hospital in a wheelchair, and a couple of hours from the time I went in, I came out walking, no pain, no nothing," Darrell says. "I never felt better in my life. My wife and I stopped on the way home and had a meal at a restaurant. After we got home I sat a little while, and then told my wife, I’m going to the auction. She said, ‘You don’t need to go to the auction,’ but I felt fine and I went."
Even better, Darrell continued driving tractor-trailers for two more years before deciding to retire at age 71.
He enjoys telling his story about his spine surgery, and when friends ask about the implant, he pulls a souvenir keychain out of his pocket. At the end of the chain is a plastic model of the X-Stop®.
"The surgery was fantastic," he says. "I wouldn’t want to be treated any better. I have several friends here who have the same kind of problem I do. I tell them, you need to go see Dr. McPherson. He’ll take care of you."
Hope Story Disclaimer -"Darrell's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.