Physical therapists are examining the patient's body.

Finding Balance Again After Spine Surgery

There is no better feeling than being told “we can help you.” Dr. Charles Brotherton, a retired physician, had been slowly losing use of his hands and legs, suffering from balance issues and repeated falls and was looking for answers. He was referred to Southeastern Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, a department of Pardee Hospital, and the team of clinicians worked together to figure out what was wrong.

It turned out to be a problem with his spine. Dr. Erik Olsson, a spine surgeon with Southeastern, diagnosed him with a condition called Cervical Myelopathy, due to degenerative arthritis in his neck, which was causing compression of his spinal cord. This caused the numbness in his hands, loss of fine motor skills and weakness in his legs and gait imbalance.

Thankfully, this could be treated. While this is a degenerative disease and there is no cure, surgery dramatically reduces further deterioration and can help treat the symptoms. Dr. Olsson performed an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF). This is the most common of neck surgeries, in which the entire damaged disc is removed through the front, or anterior, of the neck. The two vertebrae are then surgically fused to ensure the spine remains stable afterwards.

Dr. Brotherton said he is, “feeling good, and would probably be in a wheelchair had I not had the surgery.” He said his experience with Southeastern was great and “Dr. Olsson was right on top of the diagnosis, was very professional and performed the surgery in a timely manner.” He said it was a great experience and that he has regained full use of his hands and his balance is getting significantly better. 

The great teamwork among the staff at Southeastern helped to diagnose and treat Dr. Brotherton quickly and restored his quality of life. That is the goal with every patient interaction.

SESM is constantly taking steps to ensure high-quality patient care. This includes having specially trained surgeons who offer the gold standard of care for patients with cervical degenerative disc disease. 

Dr. Olsson is the only surgeon west of Greensboro to perform minimally invasive posterior cervical fusions. Prior to this technique, this was a very invasive surgery that took more than three hours. Surgeons would make a three inch incision in the patient’s back, remove muscle tissue, put rods and cages in the back and the recovery would be three to four months. 

Now, with this new technology, the surgeons are able to access the posterior cervical spine in a much less invasive way. The surgery takes only 30-45 minutes and the patient goes home the same day. The recovery is only one-two weeks and the results have been phenomenal. 

The vast majority of patients who suffer neck problems will not require any type of operation. However, if the non-operative treatments are not working to address the pain, this procedure can treat the neck problem. 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Olsson and spine surgery at Pardee.

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