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Chance Meeting Changed
My Life

Last spring, Maria Cain read about an educational program for people with spine problems, presented by Abington Memorial Hospital.

Maria Cain

She had suffered from unrelenting neck and arm pain for years, despite trying conventional therapies like epidural steroid injections, physical therapy and trigger point injections. Several physicians told her nothing more could be done.

Maria decided to take a chance and attend the spine presentation anyway. And there the specialists were, talking about innovative, new cervical and spinal surgical techniques. It seemed that different treatments worked for different people. The Huntingdon Valley woman tried to imagine a life without excruciating daily headaches and numbness in her right arm and hand.

Maria introduced herself to Guy A. Lee, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon, right after the program. "How do I get in to see you?" June Weise, coordinator of the musculoskeletal program at Abington Memorial Hospital, made an appointment for Maria on the spot.

Many people think back and neck problems only happen by accident: you get hurt in an auto accident or on the playing field. The reality is that many people have degenerative conditions that can be extremely disabling.

Back and neck conditions like bulging discs, pain from congenital problems, and compression fractures become more common as we reach our 40s and 50s.

Orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at Abington Memorial Hospital treat a wide range of disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system, using advanced medical technology and minimally invasive options.

In Maria's case, the disc between her fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae had herniated. When the spongy material that acts as a cushion between the vertebrae dries out, it often bursts like the filling from a jelly doughnut. Loss of disc height and pinched nerves can cause searing pain. Sufferers begin retreating from doing the things they love. They often can't work, sidelined by depression and chronic fatigue.

Dr. Lee recommended and performed a cervical foraminotomy. The procedure involves removing arthritic bone spurs and hollowing out bone to release the nerve sac. "He described watching the nerve inflate again once the space was free," Maria recalls.

Only a month passed between Maria's first appointment with Guy Lee, M.D. and her surgery. "I felt that if this would help me have quality of life again, this is what I would do. I never worried. I knew I was in good hands."

After six weeks, Maria was pain free. "I feel great and my range of motion is unbelievable!"

Before the procedure, Maria felt limited in so many everyday activities, like grocery shopping. "I always had my husband or son with me because shopping involved too much lifting and turning and bending. Now, I'm confident I can handle it alone, from start to finish.

"Chronic pain was hurting me and my family," the married mother of two says. "I'm so glad I met Dr. Lee that day. This surgery - and his skill and compassion - have truly changed my life."

For more information about the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, call 215-481-BONE.

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