Diagnosis: Ruptured cervical disc
Treatment: Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF), C4-C5, June 2003
Neurosurgeon: Thomas Saul, MD
Initial Injury: It happened while I was working out, doing 60-pound curls on a Nautilus machine. I just lifted too much weight and popped my neck. I felt something go. About 20 minutes later it started hurting. Looking back, Dr. Saul said the disc between the fourth and fifth vertebrae in my neck was already involved with arthritic changes.
Turning point: The pain got worse and worse and worse, and I began to lose control of my right arm. It got to be that I couldn't stand the weight of my head on my shoulders. I had to lie down to get comfortable. If I got up and my neck had to support my head, the pain was entirely too much. At that point I went to my primary care doctor. He ordered an MRI, which showed that the disc at C4-C5 was ruptured. He then referred me to a doctor at a suburban hospital. I was set up to have surgery, but I was nervous about the surgery, and I canceled at the last minute. Also, with all the pain-killers I was on, I thought maybe I was getting better. That feeling lasted about a day. My next door neighbor, a doctor who knows Dr. Saul, suggested I talk to him. Dr. Saul said I definitely required surgery. But whereas the other surgeon had said I would need to wear a neck brace for about four to six weeks, Dr. Saul said that no neck brace would be necessary. A metal plate and four screws would brace my neck from within while the vertebrae fused together. So after seeing Dr. Saul on a Monday, I underwent surgery on a Wednesday. He couldn't have been a nicer guy. And I felt noticeably better right away.
Being a spine athlete: I'm an average golfer who loves the game. I play three to four times a week during the summer, and I take golfing vacations during the fall and winter. I walk four miles a day, five days a week. I also have an exercise routine, which I do three to five days a week. And that's all year round. I don't feel hampered in any real way, except that I'm very careful not lift anything over 20 pounds. I have to watch what I pick up. It took me six months of rehab to get my right arm back, as the ruptured disc had been pinching a nerve. I became left-handed for about a year. As a result I get my left and right mixed up sometimes. I'll point to the left and say it's the right. I'll say, "It's on the right side over there," and pointing to the left. Other than these couple of things, everything is 90 percent back to normal.
If you are a current or former Mayfield Spine Athlete yourself, and if you'd like to share your story, please contact us.
story disclaimer- "Ron'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.