Life after back surgery: 'There's no sense in living with pain'
Ronny Ponder Sr.
After years of back pain, Ronny Ponder Sr. decided enough was enough. Over time, wear and tear on the joints and tissues in Ponder's back made everyday activities more difficult. The pain reduced his mobility. As a result, even his favorite hobbies were less enjoyable.
Ponder is a retired New Paris, Ohio, resident who likes to be active. In his free time, he rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and plays golf. But as his back pain got worse, he found himself becoming less active, even avoiding his favorite activities.
He turned to the Reid Health Comprehensive Bone & Joint Center for help.
"I met with Dr. Ted Kostiuk and we talked over my issues, then I had MRIs and X-rays," Ponder said.
The conversation and the test results helped them put together a course of action.
"We came up with a plan to alleviate my pain with the least amount of surgery," Ponder said.
Solving spine pain is often a tricky problem. Injuries, ailments such as arthritis, and regular wear and tear can all lead to back pain. And the causes -- or combination of causes -- are unique from one person to the next. Because the causes of spine pain vary from patient to patient, each treatment plan does as well.
Taking a step-by-step approach to treating back pain, as a collaboration between patient and doctor, helps to minimize the number of interventions needed to alleviate the pain. Fewer interventions mean faster recovery, so patients such as Ponder can get back to doing the things they love as soon as possible.
Even the prospect of spinal surgery often makes people nervous. Will surgery fix the back pain? Would another approach be more effective?
Ponder's treatment plan addressed each of those concerns.
"Dr. Kostiuk and I talked through the plan before we started," he said.
"Spinal work can feel scary, but from the very first meeting with Dr. Kostiuk, my confidence in him grew more and more. Actually, everyone at Reid Health -- from the surgeon to the nurses on the floor, the perioperative team, and the nurse navigators -- were all fantastic. They know what they're doing. They'll do their best to help you." -- Ronny Ponder Sr.
First, they would try a microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive procedure to alleviate pain from herniated spinal discs.
"He is very knowledgeable, and he leveled with me about every part of the plan," Ponder said.
Dr. Kostiuk let Ponder know the microdiscectomy would help with the pain but not fix it completely. The procedure would be a partial solution, and the results would tell them what steps would be most helpful next.
After the microdiscectomy, Ponder was happy to find much of the pain was gone, almost immediately. But some still lingered. That's when he and Dr. Kostiuk proceeded to the next step of the plan.
"We opted for a spinal fusion," Ponder said.
Because of the relationship Dr. Kostiuk and Ponder had built, the prospect of a second surgery wasn't as daunting.
"Spinal work can feel scary," Ponder said, "but from the very first meeting with Dr. Kostiuk, my confidence in him grew more and more.
"Actually, everyone at Reid Health -- from the surgeon to the nurses on the floor, the perioperative team, and the nurse navigators -- were all fantastic. They know what they're doing. They'll do their best to help you."
"I would say to anyone who is going through issues with their back, sciatica pain, or mobility problems should actually have it checked out. There's no sense in living with the pain as I did for years." -- Ronny Ponder Sr.
Ponder's spinal fusion was successful. Recovery, which is expected to take a few months, was hard at first. But even a few weeks after surgery, his mobility had improved, and pain had decreased. He was walking, driving, and recovering according to plan.
"I would say to anyone who is going through issues with their back, sciatica pain, or mobility problems should actually have it checked out," Ponder said. "There's no sense in living with the pain as I did for years."
To learn more about spine care, visit reidhealth.org/orthopedics.