Ed's New Lease on Life

Ed G. is a classic example of "old medicine" and "new medicine" treatment philosophies. After all, the 54-year-old has been a spine patient since he was 17.

Ed’s saga began as a teenager growing up in Old Saybrook, a lovely township on the Connecticut shoreline. Frustrated & frightened with sudden debilitating lower back pain, Ed was initially examined by his personal physician who thought he ruptured a disc. If that had been the case, the treatment would have included a body cast, from his chest to his knees, for one year — not exactly what a young man wants to hear as he is about to enter college.

Ed’s father took him to the head of the orthopedics department at Yale New Haven Hospital. The surgeon ruled out a ruptured disc and diagnosed degenerative disc disease (DDD). He advised against surgery and told Ed to learn to live with the condition. He also gave him a pamphlet on back stretching exercises, but advised him to restrict heavy physical activity or else chance paralysis from the neck down. He also warned that as he approached middle age, Ed would begin experiencing cervical problems. Armed with such bleak information, and traumatized, Ed tried to move on.

His dream of spots on the swim and gymnastics teams shattered as he navigated the next four years of college in agonizing pain and fear. The once growing, athletic young man weighed a mere 125 pounds at 5-foot-ten. After college, he moved to San Francisco and consulted another orthopedist who encouraged weight-training in order to strengthen spinal muscles, which would better support his spine and most likely reduce his pain. It worked and was the beginning of his physical turnaround.

Knowing he had DDD and assuming that one day he would face major surgery, Ed began searching for the best spine physicians in San Francisco. In the late 1980’s, after much research, Ed found SpineCare Medical Group. After all the past negative medical advice, the physicians at Spine Care Medical Group offered him hope. For many years, Ed was treated by Dr. Slosar and a pain management specialist, with conservative, non-surgical therapy until 2003 when Ed was diagnosed with three degenerated cervical discs and a pinched cervical nerve causing his left arm to lose strength. Conservative therapy no longer helped, so Ed underwent a triple cervical discectomy with bone implants and fusion with a titanium plate. Ed's recovery was remarkably fast and after a mere two months, Dr. Slosar cleared Ed to travel to Europe. "Dr. Slosar gave me a brand new neck," Ed says, gratefully.

Three years later, Ed's lower back pain returned. As with his cervical condition, he began getting epidural injections. After two years, Dr. Slosar diagnosed spondylolysthesis, two stenotic nerves affecting both legs, and two herniated discs at L-4/L-5 and L5-S1. "I literally could not walk or stand for more than 5 minutes without excruciating pain," he says. "Dr. Slosar recommended a two-level discectomy, anterior and posterior fusion, and laminectomy." Ed had successful surgery in February, 2008.

The years of working out and general athleticism had strengthened Ed’s spine, and prepared him for surgery. Four weeks after surgery, Ed was on the treadmill for 45 minutes! Today, he is back to his regular workout routine of lifting weights and cardiovascular exercise. Six months after surgery and another remarkably fast recovery, Ed received the green light from Dr. Slosar to go on a ski vacation over the holidays. The once 125 pound-man is a happy, productive and athletic 190 pounds! "I could not be more grateful to Dr. Slosar, Dr. Schofferman, and to SpineCare Medical Group. Their collective expertise, rigorously high medical standards, commitment to research, cutting edge technology, and holistic approach to patient care have, quite honestly, given me an entirely new lease on my life. Quite simply, they are two of my heroes."