Gary doesn’t remember when his symptoms started. His left arm tingled intermittently all the way down to his hand. His shoulders and neck frequently hurt. His neck had been stiff since childhood and he already knew that his right rotator cuff was going bad.
Occasional cortisone shots and chiropractic appointments helped control the discomfort in both places. Even though he has an unusually high tolerance for pain, the 72-year-old former police officer eventually got tired of putting up with it.
That’s when he went in to see Dr. Nelson Saldua, an orthopedic surgeon with specialty training in spine surgery, here at Vancouver Clinic.
One MRI later, Gary had his answer. His spinal cord was compressed from the top of his neck to the base of his neck.
“A compressed spinal cord can result in neck and arm pain, arm weakness, numbness and tingling, instability with walking, and difficulty with hand movements,” says Dr. Saldua. “It’s very common, and more likely as people age.”
Because the other treatments weren’t working, Dr. Saldua suggested surgery. Gary agreed.
“I only offer surgery if I truly believe there is a good chance of relief of symptoms,” Dr. Saldua says. “I know that in certain cases spine surgery can help, but I also recognize the limitations of spine surgery.”
During the operation, Dr. Saldua surgically removed bone and ligament in order to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. He also fused spine bones with screws, rods, and a bone graft.
“He had my total trust,” Gary says. “If there were any doubts, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Today, Gary has better posture and less pain.
“The surgery was a success,” Dr. Saldua says. “His pain has been relieved and he has returned to all of his normal activities.”