Where would you go? What would you do? A Physical Therapist’s journey through neck surgery.

Where would you go? What would you do? A Physical Therapist’s journey through neck surgery.

As I enter my fifteenth year as a physical therapist I’m faced with a question many of my patients ask me…”What should I do? Where should I go?” I have decided to make lemonade out of lemons and let you in with pictures, videos, and interviews with my surgeon. This unique view of my recovery will give you a real world view of what happens from surgery through physical therapy and back to full activity.

To give you some background I’ve been involved with sports from seventh grade on and my two favorites were football and wrestling. In college I played football at Central and ironically never had a neck injury. As an offensive guard you tend to hit your head or take blows that affect your neck on every play, so I assumed at some point I’d have some neck issues. Around the age of thirty I started having right sided neck pain and some radiating pain down my right arm into my thumb and index finger. Since I’m a physical therapists I’d have colleages work on my neck and give me relief. I was able to continue this way for ten years, it is quite remarkable I was able to continue with only physical therapy when I saw how bad the xray and MRI was (thanks to everyone that worked on me!). This shows the power of physical therapy to keep people going.

During this fall football season while covering the Pella High Football sideline for injuries I began having more pain and symptoms with my right hand. I made the decision to move forward and seek treatment, this process started with choosing a surgeon, if you’ve talked with anyone you know that spine surgery can relieve symptoms but carries inherent risks so I needed to get this decision right. Over the years I’ve worked with many spine surgeons which helped make my decision, so I choose Dr. Lynn Nelson of Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons (DMOS). Dr. Nelson has an impecable reputation and also understands ex-athletes as he is one of the team physicians for the Des Moines Buccaneers.
On my first visit Dr. Nelson did xrays, and I can honestly say my jaw dropped when he showed them to me. Bonespurs, arthritis, decreased disc height…after we went through this we scheduled an MRI. The MRI confimed it, severe right sided herniated disc with bone spurs compressing on a nerve root at the C5-C6 level.
The next question I asked Dr. Nelson was, “What would you do if you were me?” He gave me a number of options but with my job and what I want to do physically the only option was surgery, a C5-C6 Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion.

I had the surgery in December, stay tuned for recovery pictures, videos and updates from Dr. Nelson!


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