Back Pain and Numbness: A Spinal Champion Overcomes

Back pain and numbness can be common symptoms of a variety of back issues. Spinal Champion® Mariel shares her story of overcoming years of back pain and numbness in today’s story. How did she find freedom? Her story is one of thousands of successes we have seen here at the Spine Health Foundation.

Back Pain and Numbness
Let’s first discuss the symptoms of back pain and numbness. This can be the result of a compressed or inflamed nerve, which are prone to cause both back pain, numbness and sciatica. Often, a herniated disc is the culprit here — and it makes sense that many patients experience numbness down their legs with a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc.

Spinal Stenosis is another condition that can cause both back pain and numbness. Stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine most commonly caused by osteoarthritis. All of these conditions are prone to causing weakness and can be related to a variety of other symptoms as well.

Mariel’s Story
I had back pain and numbness in my legs for as long as I can remember. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I used to work with young horses and do Competitive Trail Riding. It got so bad that when I got off of a horse I couldn’t stand up! I had more numbness than pain.

When shopping or at work, often I would have to bend over to stretch out my spine to get the feeling back in my legs and feet. In 2002 I had a laminectomy and decompression to address the numbness. It helped for a while, although I never got the feeling back in my feet.

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The pain gradually increased over the next few years. In the summer of 2008, my husband and I drove to California to visit family. My brother-in-law commented on how much I looked like my mother (which was a compliment); I even walked like her (cause for alarm). I started watching in windows and mirrors and I was walking all hunched over and pitched to one side like my mother used to. I was in a lot of pain.

In 2009, we made a trip to Alaska. My in-laws drove up with their trailer and we flew in to spend a couple of weeks with them. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t lie down, so I didn’t get much sleep.

Back Pain: Turning a Corner
In early 2010, I was referred to Dr. Orndorff. He had me go through all of the usual pre-surgery procedures. I especially remember the steroid injections, where there wasn’t even room in my spinal column for the needle. We skipped straight to surgery.

The surgery lasted about eight hours. Dr. Orndorff made two incisions in my side and corrected a lot of my scoliosis and one incision in my back where he fused vertebrae L1-L4. After I woke up from the surgery I was able to walk a mile around the hospital floor that same day! There was still post-surgical pain, but not anything like what I was experiencing before the surgery.

Recovering from Back Pain and Numbness
Since the surgery, I have been relatively pain free. I have been able to resume normal activities. I work full time, mostly on my feet. I walk and bicycle and work in my garden. I can stand up straight. I am 65 years old and am planning a ten-year full-time RV adventure with my husband. Life is great!

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We are so fortunate to have a group of physicians of this quality in our back yard; there is no reason for anyone not to at least consult with them. I have sent several friends to Dr. Orndorff who have had excellent results. And don’t let the word “fusion” scare you! If you are even considering this, your mobility is already so compromised that the surgical option will only serve to improve your range of motion.

Read more in our Spine Health Journal.