Active Again: Spine surgery offers lasting relief for fitness enthusiast

View the latest issue of inHealth (PDF) (October 3, 2013) Patrick Swan Dynes is always on the go. When he’s not running marathons or taking his road bike on 100-mile rides, the 61-year-old government analyst lifts weights, practices yoga and swims. Being physically active is an important part of Dynes’ lifestyle. But it hasn’t always been easy.

For years, Dynes experienced excruciating lower back pain that grew worse as time went by. He felt unstable on his feet and even simple household tasks were agonizing.

“I had overwhelming pain in my lower back 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” recalls Dynes. When the pain began disrupting his sleep, he knew it was time to do something about it.

Dr. Corey WallachBack in Motion
Dynes sought the expertise of Corey Wallach, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon and the Medical Director of Inova Spine Institute at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital.

“Dr. Wallach has great interpersonal skills and he has all the right qualifications,” says Dynes. “I knew that if he couldn’t fix my back, nobody could.”

Diagnostic X-rays and an MRI revealed that Dynes suffered from spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, which in Dynes’ case caused pressure on his spinal cord and the nerves located in his spine. He also experienced spondylolisthesis, the forward movement of one vertebra above another, which adds to the compression of nerves within the spinal canal. Dr. Wallach recommended a conservative approach involving physical therapy and epidural steroid injections, which temporarily improved Dynes’ quality of life. Unfortunately, nothing gave him permanent relief. Having exhausted all his options, Dynes elected to proceed with surgery.

To treat Dynes’ spinal stenosis, Dr. Wallach performed a lumbar laminectomy and fusion, which involves removing part of the affected vertebrae to create additional space for the spinal cord and nerves. To fix the spondylolisthesis, Dr. Wallach then addressed the unstable vertebrae by fusing them together.

Just two weeks after the operation, Dynes was back to work and taking daily, hour-long walks in his spare time. To increase his core strength, he participated in physical therapy training at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. “The operation was successful in that the pain is gone,” says Dynes.

Notes Dr. Wallach: “Mr. Dynes just got right back to doing everything he wants. He’s just happy as can be and I am glad to see that he’s resumed all of his prior activities without pain or limitations.”

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Click to see more news and articles from Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in the Summer / Fall 2013 issue of INhealth magazine:  Read more arrow

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