The Unstoppable Dr. Lanman

It’s not often that we get to read about an actual expert spine surgeon giving an account of his own journey back to spine health from both a patient and a surgeon’s perspective! This is the remarkable story of one of our own, Dr. Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon who practices in Beverly Hills, is affiliated with Cedar-Sinai and UCLA medical centers, and who is a member of our prestigious  Medical and Scientific Board. He is also a Spinal Champion.

Dr. Lanman’s spine issues began when he was 50 years old, when he was just simply standing, with no other precipitating factors!

“I sought treatment immediately because I knew what had happened. My cervical disc at level C6,7 ruptured and was causing radiating pain down my right arm. I had to stop all activities, except I still saw patients and did surgery, even with the pain. I had to move quickly, and had a micro endoscopic discectomy to repair it,” says Dr. Lanman recalling his first surgery.

After the surgery, he was able to resume all of his activities. Within a few months, the pain in his neck ‘exploded’ and he knew he had re-ruptured his cervical disc and had an anterior fusion at that level.

Over the next several years, he developed lower back pain, which, despite being committed to a consistent core strengthening exercise routine, kept worsening. One day, the pain was so severe, he knew he needed to take action. Acting quickly, he had imaging done which showed his 3 upper level lumbar disks had totally collapsed, leaving bone on bone causing the surrounding nerves to be irritated and painful.

Another round of surgeries and procedures were needed at the end of 2009, beginning with a multi-level discectomy and disc replacement. This solved his problem until further degeneration in his lumbar back caused these surgeries to be followed with more treatments.  First, injections then a nerve block were utilized.  Then came a series of procedures to ensure alignment of his spine and to address the ongoing degenerative changes which included more levels receiving disc replacements, a bone spur removal, spinal fusions to ensure alignment due to scarring, hardware removal, foraminotomies and a radical facetectomy to relieve pressure and open up the area around the spinal cord. All these procedures and surgeries were done over the past 15 years.

“If I could do it all over again, I would have had the Artificial Disk Replacement in my lumbar spine at level L4,5 at the same time I had the lumbar disks above it replaced in 2009. If I had done this, I could have avoided the subsequent scarring that developed, leaving a fusion at that level as my only option,” Dr. Lanman explained.

Despite all of this, he is now doing all the things he loves, including skiing, hiking with his wife, surfing, swimming, along with functional fitness training. His expertise in all things spine was an incredible asset and put him in a unique position to view his entire journey from both a surgeon’s and a patient’s perspective.

Dr. Lanman’s success story is certainly inspirational, but is also unique, from the perspective of someone who is both a spine surgeon and a patient. His story will no doubt give people in our community the confidence they need to move forward on their spine health journey.

If you would like to hear more about his story, check out our podcast next week!