Spine Athlete ::: Joshua's story
Diagnosis: Chiari I malformation
Treatment: Cervical spinal decompression in May 2015
Neurosurgeon: Dale Horne, MD, PhD
Initial Injury: I used to cage fight, which is a form of mixed martial arts, and I was undefeated as an amateur. Before I quit fighting, I tore a ligament in my left shoulder and needed surgery. The surgery went well, but my doctor couldn’t figure out why it was not healing exactly right. The doctor ordered an MRI of my head and neck, and that’s how we discovered that I had a Chiari.
Looking back, I had experienced headaches and back and neck pain since I was 17. I wrestled in high school, and later I assumed the frequent headaches came from getting hit in the head while cage fighting. It didn’t dawn on me that they might be caused by something else.
Turning point: Once I was diagnosed, I figured no doctor would clear me physically to fight again. So I turned to body building, and I now do beach body building competitions. During my transition to this sport I realized that I had weakness in my biceps and was losing size in my arms. I also had weakness in my hands. I decided it was time to be evaluated for my Chiari. I did a Google search of Chiari malformation and found Dr. Horne. He told me I was a candidate for surgery and thought that some of my symptoms would improve, including my physical strength. As for the headaches, he said they might still come and go.
Being a spine athlete: Honestly, since my surgery, every single symptom has gone away. I’ve had only one headache since my surgery, and I’m stronger than I have ever been. I am back to doing everything I normally would do. I work out five to six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I average about 13 hours a week. I get up at 5:30 to do morning cardio and then go to the gym for weight-lifting. I split up my body workouts. I focus on the chest one day, then legs the next day. I follow that with a day devoted to abs or the outside back, then shoulders, then inner and lower back, and finally arms. I feel fantastic. I have no weakness in my arms, and my grip strength is much better than used to be. I’m not 100 percent because of the Chiari, but at this point I’m as close to 100 percent as I have ever been in my life.
If you are a current or former Mayfield Spine Athlete yourself, and if you'd like to share your story, please contact us.
Spine Athlete Story Disclaimer -"Joshua'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.
"I’m not 100 percent because of the Chiari, but at this point I’m as close to 100 percent as I have ever been in my life."