A string of falls and a car accident left Whiting resident Nanette Neves in constant agony. Plagued with numbness and pain in her leg and lower back, she endured eight years of treatments to manage the pain. When she had trouble getting out of bed, she knew it was time to discuss other options—including surgery.
Nanette, 68, underwent years of physical therapy, epidural injections, chiropractic adjustments, and cold laser therapy to treat a lumbar disc herniation and compression in her spine, causing sciatica. Sciatica is marked by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. When less invasive treatments stopped being effective, she was referred to Grigory Goldberg, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and expert in minimally invasive spine surgery. He explained her condition in detail, including how surgery could alleviate her pain and improve her quality of life.
“Our first line of treatment for back pain is always conservative, but if everything fails, then we discuss surgery,” Dr. Goldberg explains.
“Dr. Goldberg didn’t sugarcoat the situation, which I appreciated. I made the decision to have surgery right there during my first appointment,” says Nanette, who used to participate in half-marathons and belongs to a walking club at a local park.
In October, Dr. Goldberg used two small tubes threaded into small incisions to remove the damaged portion of Nanette’s disc and then stabilized her spine with a titanium spacer and screws. This innovative approach doesn’t require cutting any muscles or tendons, enabling patients to recover faster and with less pain.
Now, Nanette is back to walking several miles a day. She no longer feels numbness or pain. Because she still has some stiffness, she attends physical therapy two or three times a week to strengthen her spine and improve movement.
“If your level of pain—with or without leg numbness—is the same after pain management injections, you should consider seeing a spine specialist,” says Dr. Goldberg. “There’s no reason to continue suffering from a pinched nerve. Spine surgery has evolved, making it safer, faster, and more effective.”
The Symptoms of Sciatica
In general, sciatica can cause:
- Mild to severe pain anywhere from the lower back to the hips and buttocks and/or down your legs
- Muscle weakness in your leg and foot
- Numbness in your leg
- Tingling feeling of “pins and needles” in your leg, foot, or toes