Retired veteran Emmett Hoyt thought he’d had a stroke. “My right leg began to gimp… it was dragging, and I couldn’t figure out why. I thought I’d had a stroke. I couldn’t almost make it to the bathroom, so I had to call the doctor.” It turned out that the problem wasn’t a stroke. What he did have was three discs that had degenerated to the point that they collapsed, putting pressure directly on the nerve. “I had a pinched nerve, and I had three discs that were collapsed, and they pinched a nerve. And I said, how come I haven’t got pain? He said ‘Well, it’s good and bad you don’t have pain. It’s the good part that you don’t have pain; it’s bad because it’s pinched so hard that it can’t give pain’.”
As a veteran, Hoyt had options not available to other people with this issue. He checked out the services available at the Veterans Administration hospital in his area. However, he choose Spine Institute Northwest. “There’s a lot of positive things about the Spine Institute that I found when I researched it and I was very comfortable with the doctors when I met them personally. They were very personable, I wasn’t treated like a number. Everybody’s very polite, very caring. I looked at each doctor and they had tremendous credentials and experience, they’d had hundreds if not thousands of operations done, so they were well experienced.”
They’re all impressed that I healed as much as I did within a year.
Hoyt required a spinal fusion – a special support system for multiple damaged discs that may include metal screws and plates, bone grafts, artificial bone material or a combination of one or more therapies to help stabilize the spine. When discs collapse, the bones in the spine no longer have a cushion between them and can continue to deteriorate, weakening the spinal column. A fusion provides the necessary stabilization to allow patients to continue their daily activities. He also used spinal cord stimulation, which helps patients manage pain.
The health care professionals were surprised at the extent and speed of his recovery, according to Hoyt. “They’re all impressed that I healed as much as I did within a year. Most of my leg is back about 75 percent and the doctor is arranging some more physical therapy that could bring it back quicker.” Physical therapy is often used after spinal surgery to help strengthen muscles and promote flexibility in the spine. A physical therapist can also show patients how to move in ways that don’t stress the back.
Finding the right doctor is critical, says Hoyt. “The main thing is when you talk to a doctor and if they’re talking way over your head and you don’t know they’re talking about – get another doctor.” He was particularly impressed by the way the doctors answered his questions. “And here in Bothell, they’re very down to earth, they explain things, they take the time. If you have a question they let you know what the answer is.”
If you suffer from back or leg pain, please contact Spine Institute Northwest. We’ll schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, who can assess your condition and make recommendations for care. Our goal is to use minimally invasive techniques, as we strongly believe that less is more in treating spinal conditions. Emmett Hoyt has the last word: “Don’t put up with pain, you know, get it done.”