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Cyclist Swiftly Back to Biking After Spine Surgery

An avid cyclist and photographer, John was used to intense physical activity, twisting, lifting and associated aches and pains. So in February 2009 when he began to experience extreme pain in his legs and buttocks, it was easy to assume it was a pulled muscle. But over the next few days as the pain continued to intensify, John went to the emergency room at a local hospital. Doctors there concurred that he had likely suffered a muscle strain and that it should improve with time and rest.

"The pain was unrelenting to the point it woke me up in the middle of the night," says John. "But I'm the guy with a high tolerance for pain who never sees a doctor. It became exhausting and on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the worst pain imaginable, mine was a nine."

That's when John finally went to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital Miramar.

"When I arrived at the emergency room at Memorial Hospital Miramar, I could barely walk and needed a wheelchair," says John. "I was relying on pain medication just to get through the day. I turned to Memorial for their experts and experience." 

Emergency room physicians at Memorial Hospital Miramar ordered an MRI. The results confirmed a herniated disk in John's spine and he was referred to Memorial Neuroscience Center and Greg Zorman, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery for Memorial Healthcare System.

Located at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West, Memorial Neuroscience Center in South Florida is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of neurological disorders and injuries in adults and children.

Counting on Experience

During his first visit with Dr. Zorman, John learned that the herniated disk was compressing the nerve root resulting in sciatica. He would need surgery.

"As soon as he said ‘surgery,’ I was in so much pain, I said, ‘let's go!’" says John. "I could have gone anywhere, but I chose Memorial. If someone was going to operate on my spine, I wanted it to be a physician who has done it a thousand times. Not to mention, Dr. Zorman has a calm and reassuring bedside manner. I knew I was in great hands."

John underwent a laminotomy, which required only a small surgical incision in his back to remove the herniated portion of the disk and leave the muscles intact. 

"For cases like John's that are severe enough to require an operation, fortunately there are new surgical techniques that offer fewer complications, reduced postoperative pain and a faster recovery period," says Dr. Zorman.  "Not only was it my goal to fix his herniated disk and relieve his pain, but I also wanted to give him back the ability to return to riding his bike as if nothing had ever happened."

The day after surgery, John was up and walking, without pain. He spent just one night in the hospital, and was released.

"After surgery, it was like a switch had turned off my pain," says John. "I walked out of the hospital the next day and into the sunlight, realizing that I had lost a month of my life to my injury, but extremely grateful that Dr. Zorman and the Memorial team were able to give me my old life back."

During the next month, John went to Memorial Hospital West for rehabilitation therapy several times per week. After two weeks, John returned to work.

"I've not taken a pain pill since my release from the hospital," says John. "Three months later, I had recovered fully and returned to cycling. Most importantly, I'm pain-free and enjoying my life again."


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