Quad Cities, IL/IA

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A Herniated Disc Can Be More Than a Pain in the Neck


Submitted by Orthopaedic Specialists

Dr. Michael Dolphin leads the Spine Center of Orthopaedic Specialists. He oversees the treatment of both back and neck disorders,
with a particular emphasis on degenerative conditions.

As a railroad engineer, Bob Stammer of Albany, Ill., knows the importance of well-aligned tracks. While he can easily spot when railroad tracks are not quite right, misalignment within his own body was another story. He wasn’t sure of the cause, but he did know he was getting headaches and soreness in his neck and shoulders. It was uncomfortable to sleep, and he always felt grouchy.

With the discomfort becoming too much,  Bob sought out Dr. Michael Dolphin. Dr. Dolphin leads the Spine Center of Orthopaedic Specialists located in Davenport, Iowa.

Herniated disc discomfort
Dr. Dolphin diagnosed Bob with a herniated disc. This means a nerve has become pinched, sending pain down a leg or arm. The condition can occur suddenly from trauma or over time from repetitive stress on the spine. Bob thought his condition may have been caused by a combination of a car accident and years of working on the railroad.

Interestingly, surgery wasn’t the first recommendation for correcting Bob’s herniated disc.
“The body has an amazing ability to heal itself,” Dr. Dolphin said. “Our staff strongly believes in treating neck and back problems with exercise, strengthening, and nutrition.”

Bob followed physical therapists’ guidance as a means to end his pain, performing neck stretching exercises as prescribed. He also took muscle relaxers and painkillers to make things more bearable. While all this helped, it just wasn’t enough.

Bob decided to move forward with an Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion (ACDF) surgical procedure. The good news was that due to Dr. Dolphin’s expertise, the surgery was performed as minimally invasive on an outpatient basis. In fact, Dr. Dolphin is the only surgeon in the Quad Cities that offers outpatient surgery for the back and neck — that means patients get back to normal life a lot quicker.

About minimally invasive ACDF
Cervical disc herniations can be removed through the front of the neck (anterior approach) to alleviate pain, numbness, and tingling resulting from nerve root and spinal cord pressure. Typically, a plate and screws made of metal are inserted to provide immediate spine stabilization while the bone fusion is healing. Dr. Dolphin performs this procedure with a minimally invasive approach, through an incision approximately 1-inch in length, which allows for an outpatient procedure, a quicker recovery time and reduced scarring.

Back to the life he loves
Bob experienced the positive impact of his decision quickly.

“The first couple days, I was a little sore,” Bob said. “But on the third day, it was like the best decision ever. You just don’t realize how bad it was until the pain is gone. I would have done the surgery years ago had I known the difference.”

Bob sleeps better. His energy is up, and he is able to do just about anything pain-free. His surgery was so successful, Dr. Dolphin asked if he could share before and after photos of Bob’s neck with his colleagues. In railroad terms, Bob’s life is back on track, thanks to mimimally invasive  back surgery.

If you are experiencing neck/back pain or other orthopaedic pain, you can schedule an appointment at Orthopaedic Specialists by calling 563-344-9292 or visiting their website at OSQuadCities.com.