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Vanessa Garity/Lumbar Spine Fusion

Vanessa Garity/Lumbar Spine Fusion

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Dr. Land's patient, Vanessa Garity

About 20 years ago, Vanessa Garity had a fall in a snowstorm in Pennsylvania causing severe back pain. A 5-day hospital stay with IV steroid treatment and weeks of physical therapy fixed the problem at the time.

She would slowly begin to have back pain again but in 2011, the pain became worse. She was having sciatica down her leg so bad that she had to be put back on steroids. This was only a temporary fix. She then tried injections but those didn't work. Then she started to have weakness in her left leg and a "foot drop" - which is a when one can't lift their leg due to a muscular or neurological problem. Her orthopaedic surgeon at the time performed a Discectomy. (A Discectomy is a procedure to remove low back disc material that is pressing on a nerve.) Afterwards, she still had some numbness but did feel better at the time.

Last year, she lifted a box and reinjured her back. After several months of low back pain, it became quite severe and sharp to the point she couldn't even stand up straight. She had been to another orthopaedic practice for her previous surgery but was not satisfied with that surgeon. That was when she found Dr. Charles Land. She says that "I read that he did his fellowship at John Hopkins, which I feel is the best hospital in the U.S. So that was one reason I chose him and Pinnacle. Once I met him, I knew I had the right surgeon for what I needed."

Dr. Land specializes in surgical and non-surgical care of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine including degenerative spinal conditions, lumbar and cervical stenosis, disc herniations, minimally invasive spine surgery, spinal trauma, and kyphoplasty. He examined Vanessa, took several x-rays and reviewed an MRI. His diagnosis was disc degeneration along the L5-S1 discs. Disc degeneration is when the cartilage between two vertebrae wears out. Her back had weakened from the original injury and procedures.

Dr. Land and Vanessa discussed several options for treatment. Medication, physical therapy, home exercise programs, and injections were all options. Surgical intervention was also an option. Vanessa had already tried most of these treatments and was ready to have a Lumbar Spine Fusion. Spinal fusion joins two vertebrae and prevents any movement between the two. This involves a technique called allograft bone grafting to help the bones heal together with screws. This would relieve the pain and pressure of the disc.

Vanessa had the surgery a few weeks after meeting Dr. Land. A week after the surgery, her pain had subsided and there was improvement in her numbness and weakness. Seven weeks after the surgery, she was pain free and had no numbness. She is off medication and can walk without pain and is very satisfied with the surgery.