Upright MRI Helped Marathon Runner Be Free of Back Pain

Being an athlete all his life, Richard Patient could barely walk his back pain so bad. But the open, upright MRI helped the hardware fit perfectly. Now he's pain-free, active, and holding grandkids again.

Running five days a week after back surgery

I’ve always been a very active individual. I’ve always been a jogger because I played sports in high school and college. So a quality of life I’ve grown to accept is a very active one. Whether it’s the jogging, or the swimming or the hiking in the mountains, whatever we did always required a lot of physical activity.

About ten years ago I was very active, I ran a marathon, had run some half marathons and the like. But starting five or six years ago, I noticed an increasing amount of pressure in my lower back and legs. So much so that about two and half years ago I had to stop jogging, because the pain was not only while I was exerting physical activity, but also after I was finished. So in that respect I really felt a void. About the same time we had a grandbaby enter the family, and like any grandparent, it was my desire to pick her up and hold her as much as I could. But that was very uncomfortable. So within another year it was so bad I began walking instead of running because the pain was too bothersome.

About a year and half ago, I was also was experiencing and increase in pain. I couldn’t even walk more than about 75 yards before I’d have to sit down, let the pain dissipate, then get back up and walk another 50-75 yards again. So a mile walk would take 25-30 minutes because I’d have to stop every two or three minutes and let the pain go away. Not to mention picking up the grandbaby was almost out of the question. She was now at 12-15 pounds, and the pain was almost unbearable, so I had to stop that.

Fortunately, I was able to find out about Dr. McCord. I was aware of the pioneering effort he had in dealing with spinal stenosis as well as scoliosis...both of which I had. The spinal stenosis was so bad in three of my vertebrae, that the vertebrae was bone on bone. There was no disc material at all between three sets of the vertebrae. There were five in total. The other two had some disc material but it was paper thin. It was only a matter of time before that eroded away and I’d be in the same situation of the first three. In addition to that, I was double lucky...I’ve had spinal scoliosis for quite a while, did not even know it. Apparently I aggravated it while I was playing rugby in law school. Over time it was noticeable but not bothersome, but in the last three or four years it became very bothersome. So I had both the spinal stenosis and spinal scoliosis.

I came to Dr. McCord. He has the benefit of an MRI machine that is not a reclining but where you can sit or stand, to view the pressure on the vertebrae and spine in the standing or sitting position. Which was good, because that was were my discomfort was. Not so much sitting down or lying down, but in a standing position. I previously had an MRI lying down in a reclining position. When I found out about Dr. McCord’s open, upright MRI machine, that allowed patients to sit and stand, it just made perfect sense to me that to properly diagnose something you had to view the spinal cord when it was in a pressure situation like sitting and standing. After having gone through that, Dr. McCord was able to get a very clear picture of what I had, and the prognosis was not good. In the interim, the pain had become so painful that after consultation with Dr. McCord and some of the staff here, it became obvious that to return to a quality of life that I had enjoyed for many many years...the only option left was to operate.

When I found out about Dr. McCord’s open, upright MRI machine, it just made perfect sense to me that to properly diagnose something you had to view the spinal cord when it was in a pressure situation like sitting and standing.

Approximately 14 months ago I went through two procedures. One to put in spacers between the vertebrae to take care of the spinal stenosis. Two days later I had four titanium rods put on my spine to straighten up the curvature of my spine...the spinal scoliosis. He did four rods instead of the usual two, which many surgeons do, but he advised me before the operation that he was going to do four because that increased the flexibility that I would have post-operation. And he was right. I have some acquaintances who have had similar operations, but do not enjoy the flexibility or range of motion that I now enjoy, because of the separation in four rods instead of just two rods.

So a long story short is that it’s been almost 14 months now, I enjoy a much better quality of life. I can power walk daily, I do upwards to 2-6 miles, five days a week. I especially enjoy being able to pick up the granddaughter, she’s now 2 and weighs 26 pounds, and that’s just a real joy. It makes the whole family life that much better.

As what I would recommend something to someone, I would whole heartedly recommend at least a visit and consultation with Dr. McCord and find out the options that are there. Prior to meeting with Dr. McCord the only information I really had was that spinal fusion was still the prevalent method of dealing with spine issues. And that fusion, while the practice of the day, would eventually be replaced by the procedures that Dr. McCord and one or two others have pioneered. That was very enlightening to me, not to have to be in a very stiff, inflexible, lack of range of motion that a spinal fusion gives you. It’s more akin to the way God designed your spine. I have great range of motion and the quality of life is back that I enjoyed prior to the last ten years of my life.

Because of the active life I had led prior to the diagnosis that Dr. McCord made, some of the traditional options were fusion of the spine. That was something I just did not find acceptable because of the quality of life and range of motion those patients had post-op were quite poor. That’s why I decided to go with Dr. McCord even though it was as newer procedure, not the standard procedure, to deal with my issues of scoliosis and stenosis. I decided his procedure because it gave me the best opportunity to return to the the things I was used to doing, and the quality of life I had when I was much younger. That was the basis of my decision and I’m very thankful I did that.

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