Competitive weightlifter qualifies for World Championship Event after successful lumbar surgery with fusion

Gary had struggled with chronic lower back pain since the age of 16. He has always been very energetic and enjoys living life to the fullest, some of his favorite activities include weight lifting, raquetball and golf.

For many years, Gary attributed the back pain to his active occupation and recreational lifestyle. But in late 2004 he noticed the pain worsening and it was not long before it began radiating into his left leg. Gary scheduled an appointment with his personal physician to seek some relief. His personal physician noticed some disc abnormalities on his diagnostic tests, and referred him to Dr. James Lynch, a spine surgeon at Swift Spine Institute.

Dr. Lynch examined Gary and studied results of an MRI, which revealed that he had degenerative disc disease in the low back at L4-5 and LSS1. His pain symptoms were caused by a herniated disc and stenosis, something that would not respond to nonsurgical treatments. Dr. Lynch explained the treatment options to Gary, both nonsurgical and surgical. After weighing his options, Gary decided that surgery was the best way for him to return to his active lifestyle.

In November 2005, Dr. Lynch performed lumbar laminectomies to treat the herniated disc & bilateral foraminotomies to address the stenosis, along with a lumbar fusion to maintain stability of the segments post surgery.

The spine surgery provided immediate relief from pain, Gary notes. Still, he knew that the path to recovery would require some active rehab. Prior to surgery, Dr. Lynch stressed the importance of physical therapy after surgery. Gary participated in special therapy sessions, that included exercises designed to make his back stronger, more flexible and resistant to future strain. The customized physical therapy helped to strengthen his core and prevent future back pain.

“Since the surgery I have had no pain, I feel like Dr. Lynch gave me my life back,” says Gary. “But once the surgery was over, he told me that it was up to me to stick with my physical therapy and exercise regimen long term,” Gary remembers.

Eventually, Gary was able to gradually get back to the activities he enjoys. He started lifting weights, something that was not possible before.

Today, Gary is doing great. He is back in shape and stronger than ever. He works in Corrections as a Correctional Sergeant and has been with the Plumas County Sheriff Department for 13 years. Gary is known as “G” by his co-workers in this close knit department. He is fortunate to enjoy his work. Gary has 2 children, Brittni and Ryan. And in May, he will marry his fiance Ruth, who is very supportive of Gary. He goes to the gym 4 days a week, 2 hours a day, 2 of the days are spent lifting, the other 2 days are a combination of core work and cardio.

It was a successful road back to the rigorous demands of weightlifting. In October 2009 Gary competed in a World Championship Event for Bench Press and Dead Lifting. “Being able to get back to bodybuilding provides me a lot of satisfaction. I could never have returned to this level without Dr. Lynch’s help,” he says.

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