Ben has been active with the United States
Marine Corps for over 16 years. When he is not
serving in the Marine Corps, he enjoys weight
lifting, hiking and riding his Harley motorcycle.
Ben was driving from Reno to Oregon when he
first started experiencing neck pain and stiffness.
At the time, he chalked it up to his active lifestyle
and didn’t give the symptoms too much thought.
Unfortunately, his neck stiffness did not
go away and it wasn’t long before he started
developing numbness, tingling, pain and marked
weakness in his left arm. Ben went to his primary
care doctor for relief. After his exam, the doctor
told Ben he needed to see a spine specialist.
Ben had visited SpineNevada in 2004 following a lower back injury while on duty
that ultimately required spine surgery. Dr. James
Lynch, a fellowship-trained spinal neurosurgeon
at SpineNevada performed a mini-open L4-5 ALIF
(Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) procedure.
An advantage of the ALIF procedure over a more
extensive posterior approach is that the incision
is made in the abdomen instead of the back. This
allows the back muscles and nerves to remain
undisturbed. Because Dr. Lynch recommended
the less invasive ALIF procedure, Ben was able
to remain in the Marines and continue an active
lifestyle without restrictions.
When Ben realized he needed to see a spine
specialist regarding his cervical spine symptoms
in 2012, he returned to SpineNevada. At
SpineNevada, Ben was first seen by a fellowship-trained interventional pain
management physician who specializes in
helping patients return to activity non-surgically.
The doctor ordered an MRI of his cervical spine
which showed a large C5-6 disc herniation
compressing and distorting the spinal cord and
left C6 nerve root. He next consulted with Dr. Lynch. Meanwhile, Ben’s symptoms
were worsening and making his normal, active
Dr. Lynch discussed with Ben in detail
the problem that was causing Ben’s neck pain,
numbness and significant weakness. “Typically,
we first try conservative care such as physical
therapy and possibly an epidural injection
for a herniated disc. But in Ben’s case of
such neurological deficits and the large disc
herniation it was felt that surgery was his best
option.” Dr. Lynch explains.
Dr. Lynch talked with Ben about the
spine surgery that would treat his
condition, known as Anterior Cervical
Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF). Ben
was eager to get back to his life in
the Marine Corps and decided to
move forward with the surgery.
Dr. Lynch performed the
C5-6 ACDF and Ben felt much
better after. Ben gradually
returned to light activity, such
as walking. About two months
following surgery, he started
attending physical therapy where
he learned exercises that would
strengthen his muscles. He also
slowly returned to lifting weights
and hiking. Today, Ben is not limited
at all in activity and remains pain free.
“Being in the Marine Corps is important to
me and Dr. Lynch understood this, he has
helped me stay active in the Marines twice
now,” Ben reflects. He is back to full active duty in the Marine Corps.
Educational content copyright 2019 ©Prizm Development, Inc. All rights reserved. PrizmDevelopment.com • Centers of Excellence for Better Healthcare