So many of you live with back pain, but for a select group of you the solution could be spine surgery. We visited with a Sioux Falls man who is recovering from spine surgery 3 months ago and wishes he would have had it 3 years ago.
For John Dahl, taking off a back brace he's worn for 3 months is the second best feeling in the world. Not having back and leg pain in the first place, for the first time in 5 years tops the list. He had surgery on his spine in January to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord. The day we met up with him was the first day he could go without wearing his back brace.
He says, "I had pain down both legs and lower back. It got so bad I was taking about 20 Ibuprofen a day. The best part of my day used to be the hot steamy shower in the morning, otherwise I was in pain from the minute I put my feet on the ground getting out of bed."
John tried everything. He went through 6 months of chiropractic care and even acupuncture, but nothing worked. After seeing Dr. Walter Carlson at the Orthopedic Institute in Sioux Falls he discovered nothing ever would have. Dr. Carlson diagnosed John with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine in the lower back.
Dr. Carlson says, "And then surgery becomes and excellent solution to resolve this. Again it's like a squeezed water hose. You take off the pressure and all the water runs through just like the spinal cord. If you remove the arthritic pressure, ligament pressure that's built up over the years all of a sudden their spinal cord is functioning normal again."
After surgery John really had to watch what he did and what he lifted. He knew a 12 pack of pop or a gallon of milk was about the limit. Even with the limitations he said he doesn't regret it for a second. He's now been given the green light to graduate to 20 to 40 pounds.
John says, "I was kind of afraid to do it but I should have done it 3, 4 years ago. I really should have. You feel so good you forget how bad you felt before. You forget you'd almost cry when you put your shoes on. I feel 100% better but Dr. Carlson says patients like me scare him because we tend to do overdo it because we do feel so good. I'm really being careful though."
Although John has a hard time taking it easy, he says he will because he appreciates being able to tinker around the garage again without back pain putting the brakes on his projects.
Dr. Carlson says if you get to the point where you are having a lot of leg pain, numbness, tingling re weakness, chances are you are experiencing severe pressure on your spinal cord and you should see a specialist to get the proper diagnosis.