Retired Navy, Current Civilian Contractor Back to Target Practice After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Joy is retired from the US Navy and currently works as a civilian contractor technician with Northrop Grumman. She helps train military pilots for deployment. Joy’s responsibilities include maintaining and operating surface to air radars, this includes moving radars between locations. She also helps move vehicle targets. Joy enjoys shooting and quad riding in her free time.

Over the years, Joy had experienced mild lower back pain and leg pain that would come and go. The symptoms did not interfere with her everyday lifestyle though.

About a year and a half ago, Joy started experiencing more severe lower back pain along with leg pain and numbness in her toes. Her pain symptoms had started interfering with her normal activity level. Joy had difficulty sleeping — the pain would wake her up at night. She was also limited in the length of time she could stay on her feet, due to the pain and numbness.

Joy went to her primary care doctor to find out what was causing her symptoms. An MRI revealed that Joy had a degenerative disc at L5-S1. Her doctor suggested she try conservative care including physical therapy. Joy tried physical therapy along with a round of epidural injections — neither offered lasting relief though.

Joy’s primary care doctor referred her to Swift Spine Institute. Her first appointment was with a fellowship-trained physical medicine physician. He performed an EMG to gather more information about her spine condition. The EMG revealed L5-S1 nerve root damage. To ensure that all conservative care options were exhausted before surgery, the physiatrist referred Joy to the spine specialized physical therapists at Swift Spine Institute. The therapy offered some temporary relief — but Joy’s pain and numbness persisted.

Because Joy had tried conservative care for over a year, she was referred to Dr. James Lynch, a fellowship-trained spine neurosurgeon at Swift Spine Institute. Joy was eager to get a good night of sleep again and ready to return to her normal lifestyle. At her appointment, Dr. Lynch reviewed Joy’s diagnostics and talked with her about the spine condition causing her symptoms. He next discussed with her the treatment options, including a minimally invasive spine surgery known as Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (Mini-TLIF). Joy was relieved to learn that her condition could be treated with a minimally invasive approach.

Joy talked it over with her husband and then decided to move forward with the minimally invasive surgery and she wanted Dr. Lynch to perform the surgery. Dr. Lynch performed the surgery and Joy felt immediate relief from her pain and numbness symptoms. She carefully followed the post-surgical instructions provided by Swift Spine Institute.

Today, she is not limited in her activity level at all. Joy is back to some of her favorite activities including quad riding and target practice at her local gun range. She was happy to notice an improvement in her posture following surgery, which helps with her ability to shoot. “Before surgery, if I was on my stomach, I was in lots of pain. Now I am able to shoot in the prone position, without pain. I’m happy to be free of the symptoms that were part of life for many years,” Joy reflects.

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