By his own admission, Daniel Schmalzried has led an active, physically intense life. In addition to being a veteran of the US Army, he also worked in mining, trucking, and logging. “I just plain wore my back out,” he says, and eventually he could no longer work. “I hit a brick wall about two years ago. I just came to a dead stop, I couldn’t do anything anymore,” Daniel remembers.
Daniel had turned to professionals as well as people he knew for advice, and everyone kept giving him the same answer. “One doctor gave me a complete statement, ‘At your age you do not want to have surgery on your back,'” he recalls. The more Daniel researched, however, he realized that people were talking about open back surgery—and that there is an alternative.
Learning about minimally invasive spine surgery, Daniel found that “it really made sense that, if you weren’t cutting through muscle, I wouldn’t have the hard recuperation process of trying to get muscles strengthened.” Once he’d met with Dr. Solomon Kamson, Daniel was “totally excited” to have laser spine surgery. “I would have done it the day I talked to him when I first came in,” he says.
Daniel’s intense back pain, as well as numbness and weakness in his left leg, stemmed from a disc that had degenerated so much that two of his vertebrae were grinding against one another. A minimally invasive fusion was used to open up space for his nerves, and stem cells were injected at the site. Daniel also had a bulging disc trimmed.
Now, Daniel feels like he’s gotten a “second chance” at life. “I had physical therapists tell me, ‘Well, we can reduce your pain with muscle strengthening exercises, but we’ll never get you out of pain,” you know.” He smiles. “I’m here to say well, I’m out of pain, people.”
Listen to more of Daniel’s story, including why if you’re suffering from chronic back pain, he says “I believe it in my heart that there’s help out there for you.”