Patients Praise Effectiveness of Spinal Procedures
Following are the stories of patients who have benefitted from the new minimally invasive surgical techniques being practiced by Dr. Richard Wohns and his associates.
She came to you in pain;
The head, the neck, the teeth...
Unbelievably, her tongue
Would too often score a ten!
Nate explained the slippage,
The instability and deterioration
That, left alone,
Would only worsen...
Then, as her very own "da Vinci"
You, Dr. Wohns, re-aligned five vertebrae,
Replaced four discs, fused it all
And sent her home to heal
She is 72 and grateful!
B.W., regarding fusion surgery
I wanted to say thanks for giving me my life back. I was able to go on a 40 mile, 5 day backpacking trip 2 weeks ago!!! My fusion surgery was Dec 30th. 7 months later, I was able to hike the Pacific Crest Trail through the Goat Rocks area between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier! I am happy to report I was able to hike 10 miles on 2 of those days. I carried a 20 lb. backpack and my back felt great:)
S.P., regarding X-Stop technology
NOTE: The following is a verbatim transcription of an email message sent to Dr. Richard Wohns of NeoSpine by “S.P.” following her back surgery using a technology called “X-Stop”:
”After three weeks of recovery time since surgery I feel.. Awesome! The symptoms that sent me to Dr. Wohns for help are gone. The surgery is well along that path and I could not be more pleased and thankful.
I have had back problems for 30 years, unable to take a step, crawling to the bathroom, unable to sleep and so on. This surgery has opened up the possibility of regaining some of what I have missed of my life, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Fear not fellow sufferers, new Technology and a great Surgeon can be your salvation!”
K.C., Hospital Recovery Room Nurse
Diagnosis: Herniated Lumbar Disc, Radiculopathy, Low Back Pain. Injured back while working as a nurse.
Surgery: Outpatient Lumbar Microdiscectomy
“Being a nurse, I investigated which surgeon I might go to and chose Dr. Wohns because a couple of the doctors I have worked with have had their back surgeries by him,” said K.C..
“My MRI reflected a bad back. Dr. Wohns explained the surgical statistics. I told him I wanted to go hiking, and he said after the surgery I should be fine. If not, he would work with me on it.
“I’m very pleased with my choice. He’s a nice guy who always treated me very well. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Dr. Wohns was very reassuring.
“I’ve talked to past patients of Dr. Wohns who had good experiences. I would highly recommend him to anyone. I know if I were having a problem that he would always help.”
“Nurses tend to be very critical people,” she adds. “I was treated very well by Good Sam Surgery Center. I’m sure they treat all patients very well.”
She was impressed with both the efficiency and the personal service of Dr. Wohns’ office operations.
“Even though he has my whole chart on a computer and is talking and doing computer work, he’s patient friendly,” she said. “He has a good system. He can see more people, more efficiently.”
She said when she woke up from surgery, she felt really good. “I could tell a big difference although I had some discomfort,” said K.C..
She still has some limitations, limited lifting to 20 pounds, still some leg pain. Recently back swelling has gone down.
“The best part is I take no medication now, and I’m returning to light duty for a month on April 5,” she said.
J.Y., Seattle Fire Fighter of 22 years
Diagnosis: Herniated Lumbar Disc, Radiculopathy. Injured on job.
Surgery: Outpatient Lumbar Microdiscectomy
Prior to surgery, J.Y. was experiencing a lot of pain in his buttocks and down his left leg. He also had numbness in his left big toe and upper groin cramping. In his work as a firefighter, J.Y. was in constant pain.
“I had trouble bending over to put on shoes and couldn’t cross my legs,” he said. “On a pain scale from 1 to 10, I was an 8.”
J.Y. worked right up until five days before surgery. He had surgery on 2/29 and could tell a difference immediately on the day of surgery. His leg pain was gone.
“I recommended walking immediately after surgery,” said Dr. Wohns. “J.Y. now walks three miles a day and can tell a difference in his back if he doesn’t.”
J.Y. recently went to Montana fly-fishing and reports he was able to walk in the area without difficulty.
J.Y. was referred to Dr. Wohns by his treating doctor, Dr. Ron Morris, The two physicians had worked together previously.
J.Y. states he was “really impressed” with Dr. Wohns. “He explained everything very well both before and after the surgery,” he said.
While he knew there was no guarantee that all his symptoms would be taken care of, J.Y. was told the prognosis for significant pain relief was good.
“On a scale from 1-10, I’m a 2 now,” he declares. “Sometimes when I stay in one position too long, I have some slight pain—like when getting up in the morning.
“The people at Good Samaritan Surgery Center in Puyallup were great, too,” he adds. “I walked out of the surgery center after being there 3-4 hours.”
He would have been released even earlier but had a back spasm that needed to subside, according to Dr. Wohns.
“When friends called the afternoon of my surgery to find out how it went, they were very surprised that I was already home after having back surgery that morning,” he reported with a smile.
“I’m going back to work as a firefighter on Saturday.”
D.H., Residential and Commercial Real Estate Agent
Diagnosis: Cervical Stenosis, Radiculopathy, and Myelopathy
Surgery: Outpatient Anterior Cervical Discectomy
Prior to surgery, D.H. was having trouble with balance. Her primary physician had her in physical therapy where she was taught balance exercises. He thought the balance problem could be corrected with PT. She also was experiencing pain in her neck, shoulders, breasts, shoulder blades, around armpits, and down into her hand. She took over-the-counter medication for pain.
Finally, she started having headaches and went to see Dr. Wohns. After the surgery, D.H. wore a neck brace and didn’t drive for two weeks. After about one month off she returned to work at a new construction site in a trailer. Her husband drove and helped her put out the sales signs.
“She was getting better,” Dr. Wohns relates, “when eight months after the neck surgery, she was rear-ended in a car accident.”
D.H. reports she now seems to be improving from that accident and is able to walk her dog again.
D.H. chose Dr. Wohns for her surgery through a recommendation of a close friend, who is an anesthesiologist. He told her how professional Dr. Wohns was; how adamant he was regarding the way things were to be done, and how selective he was in choosing the people with whom he works—that he wanted ultimate perfection of all the team.
Given that information, D.H. knew she wanted Dr. Wohns to do the surgery. She trusted him and when she met him she felt comfortable with him.
“He has an active life,” she stated. “He climbs mountains. It’s obvious that he understands a person who is active.” That level of understanding was important to D.H. “I worked out at a gym 4-5 times per week.” she said.
“Dr. Wohns is very honest,” she continued, “very concerned and has a good sense of humor. When he laughed, I knew it would get better. He dispelled my concerns. “If it was a concern to me; it was important to him.”
D.H. reports she still has some balance problems, but is working on improving.
“At times when I have no stress in my life or am on vacation, my balance gets better. Overall, my expectations for the surgery were met,” she said.
E.C., Registered Nurse, Floor Nurse, Obstetrics
Diagnosis: Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
Surgery: Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion with Cages
E.C. had back problems for 12 years as a result of a back injury. Prior to surgery, she reports, she “went around in pain,” mostly in the left leg and low back with occasional right leg pain.
She worked nights at the hospital. During the daytime before she would go to work she felt she couldn’t do anything -- she had to save herself for work. On her days off she managed to clean the house.
Three years ago, Dr. Wohns performed a lumbar micro-discectomy on E.C.. The pain went away for 6-9 months, but, as sometimes happens, came back.
After Dr. Wohns did the second surgery in June, she found relief. “My pain was gone. It’s marvelous. I have a new life. I am pleasant again.”
“I hadn’t weeded my garden for years. When I tried, I could only weed for a few minutes and suffered for days. Recently, I weeded for an hour and a half with no pain.”
Originally she went to Dr. Wohns because he had operated on the tumor of a friend’s mother.
“Dr. Wohns has an excellent reputation around the hospital, especially with the nursing staff. They work with a lot of doctors, and I heard he explains things well and takes his time with each patient.”
About two months after the surgery, on August 18, E.C. returned to work in a desk position doing computer screens for doctors and clinical pathways. When her 20 pound lifting restriction is lifted, she’ll return to regular nursing.
“My expectations for surgery were relief of pain, especially my left leg pain. My expectations have been met; it’s marvelous. I’m not a grouch with my family any longer. I couldn’t be grouchy with my patients, so I saved the grouchiness for my family.”
Would she recommend Dr. Wohns to others?
“I would send my family to him,” she said. “That is the best recommendation I can give.”
P.R., Self-employed Photographer
Diagnosis: Lumbar herniated disc, Radiculopathy
Surgery: Lumbar Laminectomy
Prior to back surgery, P.R. was in severe pain. She couldn’t stand very long and couldn’t get comfortable in any position.
“I was quite impaired,” she recalls.
But when she woke up just 35 minutes after arriving at the surgery center, things had changed. That very same day, she walked out of the hospital and was able to fix a bowl of soup when she got home. By the third day after surgery, she was already exercising on a treadmill.
“I felt so good I wanted to do everything,” P.R. said.
Her surgeon, Dr. Richard Wohns, was able to relieve her of pain last October, but also cautioned her not to overdo it.
“The difference after surgery was amazing. He is my hero,” she said.
She found Dr. Wohns through a referral from her regular doctor. Dr. Wohns explained that she could be treated conservatively, but that she really needed back surgery. P.R.’s husband asked Dr. Wohns what he would do if this were his wife. He replied that he would definitely recommend surgery.
P.R. went ahead with the surgery shortly after, which has enabled her to return to her work as a professional photographer. Within several weeks she was back photographing children.
“In my job, I need to be in many physical positions to photograph children—on my belly, trying to make children laugh, etc.”
She has also taken Dr. Wohns’ advice not to overdo any activity that requires heavy lifting.
“I just returned from a photography trip of three weeks to South America and easily carried my camera cases,” she said. “I don’t carry the heavy cases I used to carry, however. I’m wiser with respect to my body now, and I take care when lifting things. I’m 60, not 18.”
P.R. is very happy she followed through with Dr. Wohns’ recommendation.
“Dr. Wohns treated me like an adult,” she said. “Some doctors don’t treat their patients as adults. He explained everything to me very well.”
She has also been pleased with Dr. Wohns’ support even after the surgery.
“Dr. Wohns has been there for my follow-ups,” she said. “He’s truly my hero.”
Diagnosis: Degenerative Disc Disease
Surgery: Disc replacement (2)
For over twenty years S.G. suffered from severe lower back pain which radiated down both of her legs.
“For seven years prior to my operation I had to be very cautious about each movement I made because the muscles in my back would go into spasm,” said S.G. “The degree of pain ranged from a nagging back ache to total incapacitation, requiring hospitalization.”
Her physical limitations impaired her ability to do any of the activities and hobbies she enjoyed such as hiking, fishing, or even gardening, because the pain was so bad.
Before finding Dr. Wohns she consulted many doctors and tried other alternatives.
“My health insurance paid thousands of dollars to doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors, as well as hospitals for numerous X-rays, scans and medications,” she said. “The results of the above were negligible.”
Eventually she was told nothing could be done and that she would have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
When S.G. learned about Dr. Wohns and the latest technology he was using to help other patients like her with degenerative disc disease, she contacted him immediately.
“I consulted with Dr. Wohns, who to my amazement, said he could help me,” she recalls.
Dr. Wohns described the procedure to her. It entailed taking a small piece of bone from her hip and inserting it into titanium cages and then into her spine to replace tissue that had degenerated.
“I had two discs replaced using this procedure and it has given me back a quality of life that I thought was lost forever,” she said.
“Because I have received the latest technology and the expertise of Dr. Wohns, my life has completely changed,” said S.G.
S.G. believes in the miracle of technology and said the surgery has freed her from being a wheelchair-bound person.
“It has changed me into a person who is capable of doing anything I desire with no limitations,” she stated. “I have absolutely no back pain.”
D.B., Airline pilot
Diagnosis: Cervical Herniated Disc, Radiculopathy
Surgery: Outpatient Anterior Cervical Discectomy
D.B. is a 44-year-old airline pilot. In September of last year, he felt a pulling sensation in his neck. He thought it was a pulled muscle.
During vacation in Hawaii, the pain increased. It ran down his shoulder and right arm with a tingling sensation. Upon return from vacation, he saw his primary physician who suggested that he have an MRI. If he did have more than a pulled muscle, he told D.B. he knew the guy to send him to.
Before the surgery, besides the tingling and numbness, D.B. was having trouble bending and tying his shoes. His hand would go to sleep before the task was completed. During the night he could only sleep a few hours. Walking, standing, or sitting in a recliner were the only comfortable positions.
The MRI showed a herniation in the cervical spine. D.B.’s physician referred him to Dr. Richard Wohns. He had heard about Dr. Wohns from others as well. D.B.’s neighbor underwent surgery by Dr. Wohns for a benign brain tumor, and she had expressed what great skills her doctor had. Even the barber who cut his son’s hair had undergone surgery by Dr. Wohns, and highly recommended him.
With three reliable people telling him he should go to Dr. Wohns, he made an appointment. D.B. said he knew it was the right decision.
“I was really impressed with Dr. Wohns’ thoroughness,” he said. “He was experienced, prompt, and professional. I came away feeling like he really knew what he was doing. He was inspiring.”
Recalling the day of his surgery, D.B. said, “My surgery started promptly at 9:30 a.m. I was having a discussion with the nurse in the surgery center whose son is on the same basketball team as my son. I woke up at 10:30 a.m., an hour after the surgery commenced, with no pain nor effects of anesthesia, and continued my basketball discussion with the nurse.”
“I walked out of the surgery center at noon and felt great,” he added. “The biggest challenge was not doing something that would aggravate my condition because I felt so good.”
D.B.’s planning to go back to work soon. “I haven’t felt this good in years,” he said.
If he was to sum up his experience with Dr. Wohns he would say, “He heard excellent things about Dr. Wohns from good, reliable sources,” and his expectations were verified when he first met Dr. Wohns. “He is most professional, and he has the ability to inspire confidence in his patients.”
The office was able to get insurance approvals without problems said D.B..
“Everything was taken care of,” he said, adding the outpatient surgery center staff was also great.
R.M., M.D., Family Practice Physician
Diagnosis: Herniated Cervical Disc
2 separate discs surgeries: Outpatient Anterior Cervical Microdiscectomy
On two separate occasions, R.M., a 49-year-old family practice physician, has suffered injury to the cervical area of his back.
His first injury occurred at his home in Puyallup, Wash. At the time of the injury he felt moderate pain in his back and experienced numbness in his left arm.
What to do?
R.M. came directly to Dr. Richard Wohns, a Seattle area neurosurgeon specializing in spine, neck and brain surgeries. A week later he had his first spinal surgery, an Anterior Cervical Microdiscectomy which was performed on an outpatient basis.
A year later, while playing an energetic game of basketball, R.M. injured his back again.
If I had practiced caution, it wouldn’t have happened,” R.M. says ruefully.
Again he went to Dr. Wohns, explaining what had happened and that he was experiencing moderately severe pain with immediate weakness and numbness in his left arm. Just a day and a half later he had a virtual repeat of the surgery, although this time on a different disc.
After both surgeries, recovery was relatively quick for R.M. He was able to return to work in just 2-3 days.
Of his love for basketball, however, R.M. says, “I haven’t been back to the basketball court this time. My wife made me agree that I wouldn’t play for a year.”
R.M.’s choice of Dr. Wohns was an easy one. “I chose Dr. Wohns because I know him well and have referred many patients to him myself,” R.M. explains. “We’ve operated together; I have personally seen his handiwork. His abilities and skills are well known in the Northwest, and increasingly throughout the nation.”
R.M. declares he is very impressed with Dr. Wohns’ caring response to treating a patient in pain, “whether it is me or someone else.”
“Dr. Richard Wohns is 100% professional, has excellent skills and achieves good results,” says R.M.“I am completely happy the way this has worked out for me.”