For Will Whitlock, life in Central Florida always had meant enjoying the outdoors and his favorite pastimes of hunting and fishing. But in recent years, he spent more and more of his spare time sidelined on the sofa with chronic back pain. Some days it felt like somebody was “putting a screwdriver in my back,” he says. And then there were the multiple back spasms each day.
Will had been diagnosed with scoliosis and degenerative disc disease and had tried cortisone shots, but they no longer worked. After meeting with two doctors who said they couldn’t help
him due to the complexity of his back problem, Will connected with spine surgeon Dr. Robert Masson. Dr. Masson leads the NeuroSpine Center of Excellence at Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital. It’s the only spine surgery program in Central Florida that’s certified by The Joint Commission.
“He asked me what I wanted to get out of surgery,” recalls Will. “I told him I want to be able to hunt and fish and do my chores again without being stuck on the couch. And he said, we can do that.”
The Microsurgical Difference
Dr. Masson helped Will by fusing together two of his vertebrae using a microsurgical technique. Microsurgery uses an operating microscope and miniaturized instruments, and is less invasive than traditional orthopedic spinal surgery.
“Traditional spine surgery will have a wound of several inches that strips the muscle and ligament off of the spine above and below the surgical target,” explains Dr. Masson. “That causes future problems. When you do it microsurgically in a more focused fashion, you’re not causing your next problem.”
The procedure also included placement of a steel basket known as a “spine cage” in Will’s spine where the worn-down disk used to be, with rods supporting the vertebrae on both sides. The spine cage contains bone graft and stem cell proteins to help Will’s vertebrae grow through the cage, acting as a disc replacement. For six months following the surgery, Will also wore a bone growth stimulator on his lower back for two hours a day.
Will’s recovery includes working with the rehabilitation team at Orlando Health – Health Central to regain his strength and retrain his muscles and posture.
“So far, I’m very pleased with the results,” says Will at 10 months post-surgery. “I don’t have any pain going down my legs, and I don’t have the chronic pain. Instead of having multiple back spasms a day, I’ve only had one since surgery.
“I’m happy to be back at work, and I’m looking forward to going fishing again soon.”
Learn more about the NeuroSpine Center of Excellence at OrlandoHealth.com/SpineExcellence.
Will: I choose a Neurospine Center of excellence for life without back pain.
After decades of active living, my back pain became so bad that I could no longer do the things I love, like ﬁshing. Then I discovered the NeuroSpine Center of Excellence at Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital. After a minimally-invasive microsurgical procedure, my back is virtually pain-free, and I’m on my way to living a fulﬁlling life again.