From Back Pain to Pilates

For Kelly M., the past 20 years were spent in and out of pain, in chiropractor and doctor offices, and taking pain medications and injections.  It all began with an injury she sustained on the Northern California farm where she grew up, where her family raised sheep, pigs and horses.  When she was 14, Kelly was hit by a ram. Little did she know that her back would remain injured for a very long time.

At first, physical therapy and exercise helped alleviate the lower back pain. However, it flared up again in college one day while packing books. Again, she tried physical therapy for several years. She kept an active lifestyle of skiing, horseback riding and other sports, but the pain was always not far away.

Finally in 2007, married and a mother of two, Kelly realized the pain was worsening and she needed to take action. Her love of skiing and horseback riding were intensifying the pain. She was taking strong pain medications and injections that were no longer helping. After several visits to various spine specialists, she found Dr. Slosar while doing research on the internet.

"Three months before my surgery, my husband and I were in marriage counseling because I had no patience and I was having such a hard time coping with life,” says Kelly. "Within a month after my surgery, we just looked at each other and laughed. It was my pain that was putting the strain on our lives, and now it was gone!"

Dr. Slosar's approach to her surgery was very progressive and minimally invasive. He used a new way of entering the spine called XLIF, which stands for Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion. Dr. Slosar was able to access her spine from the side with two tiny incisions, which preserved muscles and ligaments. He then used a small plate instead of pedicle screws, because Kelly's frame is so small. Often, surgeons must access the spine from the front or back when performing a fusion. Dr. Slosar was able to use the XLIF technology on Kelly as well as Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), a modern technology. BMP is a genetically-engineered bone growth stimulator used in fusions.

Today, Kelly is pain free, back to work as a schoolteacher, and enjoying life with her family. She does Pilates, core strengthening work and exercises with a personal trainer, and walks on the treadmill. She recently enjoyed a trip to Disneyland with her family, which at one point she thought she would never be able to do because of her back pain.

"It has been two years and my husband and I often look at one another and laugh and wonder when the next rocky road will hit because it hasn't yet! We are both amazed at how much the pain was controlling everything."