Aaron Baker has always been active and fit. As an avid outdoorsman, he spent his free time outside hunting or off-roading in his home-built jeep buggy. But despite his active lifestyle, Aaron was surprised when he started to experience back pain at the age of 28.
“I couldn’t believe that at only 28 years old, I had thrown my back out,” says Aaron of that day, now 14 years ago. “The pain was awful, but I wanted to exhaust every conservative pain treatment I could before considering surgery. In order to manage the pain, I relied on pain meds and various treatments such as cortisone injections and nerve ablations. Occasionally I would have such strong back spasms that they would just put me on the ground like I got tackled. To get through the pain, I would take some pills, and soon get moving again.”
Building Bone Density
Ultimately, though, by 2020 the pain had grown so bad that Aaron knew he needed to see a spine specialist. Aaron’s spine specialist recommended he have his L5/S1 disc replaced. In preparation for the surgery, his doctor performed a bone density scan on Aaron. Aaron discovered his bone density was low. Based upon these results, Aaron’s doctor recommended that he try building up his bone density before surgery. She put Aaron on a healthy, high-calcium diet, added calcium supplements and recommended a CrossFit program to build strength. With these changes, Aaron was able to bring his bone density up to above average in just 6 months.
“I was interested in CrossFit, but really never worked out before, so this was a good motivator to begin,” says Aaron. “It hurt, of course. I couldn’t run due to pain from the impact of each step and I couldn’t do any sit-ups. I was not overweight at all, but I just wasn’t able to due to my back condition. CrossFit is great because the coaches work with whatever your condition is. This program got my bone density to above average in 6 months.”
Although Covid delayed the surgery, Aaron was able to have the surgery on July 27, 2020. He couldn’t believe that he was walking the day after having surgery. While pain set in severely on day 5, overall Aaron had a smooth recovery. He began 3 months of progressive physical therapy and was back in the gym after that, with few limitations. He felt amazing!
“After a little more than 2 years, I forget that my back was ever a problem until someone asks about it,” remarked Aaron. “I actually can’t even remember what back pain was like. At 42 now, I feel like a teenager again!”
Between the nerve problem being solved by the disc replacement and working to stay fit, Aaron has reached new fitness levels and goals.
“I built a 4500 sq ft house, have begun hunting in rugged and remote areas requiring backpacking in and hauling out the game on my back, and I basically feel like I’m up to try anything. It’s how people should be living!”
Educational programming made possible by a grant from Aesculap through our Corporate Leadership Council.