Submitted by Orthopaedic Specialists
To those who know Jason Strang, he always seems upbeat and optimistic. Friendly and full of energy, his passion for his profession as a physical therapist coupled with love of family and friends makes him a role model to many. However, what many close to Jason never realized is that he had been struggling with back pain for nearly 10 years.
“Things progressively just got worse and worse and worse,” said Jason. “It was difficult to sleep, and it was difficult to put on socks and shoes. I couldn’t sand or sit very long. I had difficulty starting to walk, and I began to develop pain down the front of both of my legs. What’s worse — I couldn’t play catch with my two sons or do other ‘fun father things’ with them.”
The pain in his back also started to impact his professional life. As the Director of Therapies at Plaza/North Scott Physical Therapy, his career is very physically demanding.
Jason had received an injection for his back pain in the past, which provided short-term relief. However, he knew he needed a more permanent solution.
He turned to Dr. Michael Dolphin, the head of Orthopaedic Specialist’s Spine Center in Davenport, for help. Dr. Dolphin is one of the most experienced providers of minimally invasive spinal fusion in the area. His expertise in the latest techniques means his patients are typically home within 24 hours after the procedure.
“I got to know Dr. Dolphin professionally through my patients at the Plaza/North Scott Physical Therapy, and his patients always seemed to have good outcomes,” said Jason. “We had a good relationship, and I felt very comfortable with him from the start.”
After a thorough examination that included x-rays and MRIs, Dr. Dolphin quickly identified him as an ideal candidate for minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion.
Minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion
The lumbar spine is the lower portion of the spine found at the center of the curve of the low back, below the rib cage. The area is prone to discomfort because as people age, various changes occur in the lumbar spine that can cause pain.
“Many patients with this type of lower back pain are able to see improvement in their symptoms doing physical therapy and getting injections,” said Dr. Dolphin. “But in some cases, like Jason’s, surgery is needed.”
Lumbar spinal fusion is an operation that causes the bones of the spine in the lower back to grow together. The goal of the lumbar fusion is to have the two vertebrae fuse so that there is no longer any motion between them. Minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion is similar to traditional lumbar spinal fusion, but it uses smaller incisions and causes less damage to the surrounding tissues during surgery.
“The big advantage of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion is that there is less damage to surrounding tissue than with traditional techniques,” said Dr. Dolphin. “This leads to faster recovery times and less pain.”
Fast recovery times
Jason, who had his procedure in July of 2011, can attest to the quick recovery time.
“When I woke up, I was feeling really well,” he said. “Within two to three hours I was able to sit up at the end of the bed, and quickly after that I could stand, walk, and go up and down stairs. The pain in my back was gone and so was the pain in my legs. I was back to work within a week.”
For the rest of 2011, Jason focused on letting his body heal. He incorporated walking and stretching into his routine, among other things.
By January of 2012, Dr. Dolphin gave him the all-clear to resume aggressive workouts and training. That’s when Jason got into CrossFit.
“I really wasn’t able to be very active before my surgery, and, as a result, I had gained some weight,” said Jason. “I wanted to feel better again. That’s when I found CrossFit. I’ve been doing that for about four years now and haven’t had any issues at all. I’m probably healthier now, four years after the surgery, than I was four years before my surgery.”
Beyond the obvious improvement to the pain in his back, the minimally invasive surgery has resulted in another benefit for Jason.
“As a physical therapist, I now have first-hand experience in what some of my patients are going through,” he said. “I can now speak to patients about my experiences and let them know that they’re going to feel this or that based on what I’ve been through.”
To learn more about Dr. Michael Dolphin and all of the experts at Orthopaedic Specialists, call 563-344-9292, visit OSQuadCities.com, and visit facebook.com/osquadcities.