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Spinal surgery turned pain into progress for one patient.

When Danny Bowers finished carrying firewood in late 2011, his back began to feel tight. He dismissed the problem as one of those annoying little tweaks that come with repetitive motion. Then, it got worse. By the next spring, he was in severe pain, and was taking potent painkillers four times per day.

The constant pain made it difficult for him to stand or sit. As the pain dragged on for months, depression set in. He lost all enjoyment in life. He worried that he would never get better.

"I couldn't find anyone who could help me," he recalls. "Then I met someone who suggested that I see Dr. Pollard (at the Augusta Health Spine Clinic), and I thought I'd give it a try."

Bowers went to the clinic for an MRI in January 2013. It showed a large disc herniation that was pressing
on the sciatic nerve. Matthew Pollard, MD, knew immediately there was hope for Bowers. Because non-operative treatments had been unsuccessful, Bowers decided to pursue surgery.

Although Bowers was anxious about the surgery, he felt reassured after Dr. Pollard explained the purpose of the operation. Making the situation even smoother, the staff at the clinic did everything they could to shepherd him through the process, Bowers recalls.

"They don't treat you like a number," he says. "They really care about you, and that helps so much when you're in a situation like that."

Bowers underwent a procedure called a lumbar micro-discectomy. Through a 1-inch incision, the disc fragment that was cutting into the nerve was removed.

After surgery, Bowers noted immediate and complete relief, and has continued to heal uneventfully. Although he still has some lifting restrictions, he is now able to walk and sit without pain. "It's been wonderful," he says. "Dr. Pollard and Augusta Health gave me my life back."

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Just Ask

Questions that spine surgery patients and families should ask their doctors prior to and following surgery:

  • What are the nonsurgical options that can be pursued first?
  • What are the different types of surgery that might be available?
  • What should I do to prepare in the days leading up to surgery?
  • What's expected in terms of postoperative recovery?
  • How long will the pain last?
  • How soon can I resume my normal activities?