For several years I suffered from severe leg pain when standing or walking for more than 20 or 30 minutes. The pain subsided almost immediately after sitting down. In April 2007, my internist referred me to a neurologist at Weill Cornell who diagnosed lumbar spinal stenosis, which was confirmed through an MRI. After two months of physical therapy and medication, my symptoms had not improved. I was referred to the Chief of Spinal Surgery at Weill Cornell, Roger Härtl, MD. Dr. Härtl reviewed my records and indicated that I was a good candidate for surgery.
Dr. Härtl said that in general, a laminectomy procedure is especially effective in alleviating the leg symptoms associated with lumbar spinal stenosis, with about 70 to 80 percent of patients reporting significant improvement in their function (ability to perform normal daily activities) and markedly reduced level of pain and discomfort. I hesitated initially, because of extensive published data I had read questioning the benefits of back surgery. However, in November 2007, I visited Dr. Härtl for a second time and told him that I was ready to have the surgery.
On December 6, 2007, Dr. Härtl inserted two titanium rods between vertebrae numbers 4 and 5, in addition to the laminectomy. This was necessary because of my misaligned vertebrae. I am happy to report that since my recovery, I have actually been completely pain-free, which from a statistical standpoint puts me in an even better range than the 70 to 80 percent of patients.
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