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Relief for Immobilizing Back Pain at Memorial Neuroscience Center

A caregiver by nature and profession, it was a bit ironic to Valerie that she would be the one to fall down the stairs while caring for an elderly woman.

"Statistically, she was at a higher risk of falling than I," says Valerie, who is a bereavement counselor. "But after tumbling down the stairs, I was prepared to wake up sore and black and blue. I had no reason to believe there was any cause for concern or medical attention."

Over the next few weeks, Valerie's pain did not subside. In fact, it became immobilizing. After a visit to her primary care physician, Valerie continued to try anti-inflammatory pills and pain medication, convinced that her pain would soon improve.

"Nothing seemed to help and I found myself unable to get out of bed," says Valerie. "I was fearful at the thought that something could be really wrong and that I might need surgery. I convinced myself that I just needed medication and rest."

When neither relieved her pain, Valerie contacted a family friend who is also a physician at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. The physician referred Valerie to Memorial Neuroscience Center and Greg Zorman, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery for Memorial Healthcare System.

"Memorial was already a part of my family," says Valerie. "We live within a couple of miles of Memorial Regional Hospital and my family owns a business nearby. Not to mention the fact that I was born at Memorial Regional Hospital and gave birth to my two children there as well. I consider Memorial my family, my friend and neighbor."

When Valerie met with Dr. Zorman for a consultation and exam, she was frightened at the thought of surgery. But four months had passed since her fall and her pain was excruciating.

Finding a Solution

"I was no longer able to work," says Valerie. "Simple tasks like making breakfast for my children seemed impossible. I wear many hats as a mother, a wife and a bereavement counselor. People count on me and I need to be there for them."

Following an MRI, Dr. Zorman sat down with Valerie and explained that during her fall, she suffered a herniated disk which was compressing a nearby nerve and causing her pain. Dr. Zorman recommended spinal surgery to remove the herniated disk. He cautioned Valerie that if she did not have surgery, she was at risk of permanent nerve damage and could lose the use of her legs.

"Like many patients, Valerie was fearful and reluctant to undergo surgery," says Dr. Zorman. "Fortunately, at Memorial Neuroscience Center our caring team of physicians, nurses and staff is experienced in performing a high volume of surgeries while at the same time, addressing the emotional needs of patients and families. It's the combination of university-level services in a community hospital atmosphere that gives us the edge."

While the idea of undergoing spine surgery weighed heavy on her mind, Valerie was scheduled to speak at a national nursing convention and did not want to miss the opportunity to share her message about the importance of grief counseling. She realized that given her pain, there was no way she could travel and stand before an audience to give her lecture.

"Dr. Zorman gave me the reassurance that I needed and I finally agreed to surgery," says Valerie. "When I woke up, I was amazed to find that the pain was gone. The next day, I was up and walking again, pain-free."

After a short hospital stay, Valerie went home. She returned to Memorial three times per week over the course of three months for rehabilitative therapy.

"Just as Dr. Zorman predicted, my pain was gone and I was able to travel to the nursing convention," says Valerie. "I guess you could say that Memorial mended my body so I could continue mending hearts. I am forever grateful to Dr. Zorman and my Memorial family."

Is Your Doctor a Memorial Doctor?
To find a physician who is committed to performing neurosurgery procedures, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.