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Scuba Diving after Spine Surgery

Last month, I shared a wonderful story about my former patient, Sarah Cohn. This month, I have the pleasure of introducing you to another former patient, Rosemary Kurtti.

Rosemary came to my practice in September of 2010, after nearly a year of chronic back pain. Before being referred to me by one of her friends, she tried treating her debilitating pain with physical therapy, epidural injections and painkillers, but nothing seemed to work.

I determined that Rosemary was actually suffering from a herniated disk in her lower back, a condition all too familiar for many of my patients. After discussing various approaches, we decided that surgery was her best option. It would be a minimally invasive procedure and the benefits outweighed everything else.

At first Rosemary was a little hesitant. She is an avid scuba diver and was concerned that she would not be able to continue pursuing her passion following the surgery. With a big smile, I told her she would absolutely dive again. Nothing about my job makes me happier than being able to get patients back to doing the things they love. Not knowing that I too share her passion for scuba diving, Rosemary asked if I understood that she would be carrying a 35-pound tank on her back. I told her of my love for the sport and answered, “That won’t be a problem!”

Not so long ago, Rosemary wrote to me saying, “In that moment, I knew that I had found the right surgeon for me. Now it is several years later, I have only a minimal scar on my lower back, I have not had back pain since the surgery, and I am still scuba diving!”

Although there are many misconceptions and fears about spinal surgery, sometimes it is the best option to treat chronic pain. In Rosemary’s case, she was not only able to rid herself of pain, but also got to continue her favorite hobby.

I often enjoy many of the same physical activities as my patients, giving me a deeper connection with them and understanding of what they are going through. As I said before, it always gives me such tremendous joy to watch them fully recover and continue those activities that once seemed daunting. Have you had a successful spinal surgery and returned to play your favorite sport?