Coordinated Health

How One Woman Said Goodbye to Chronic Back Pain

By: Hannah Ropp   July 11, 2017

When Easton resident Janice Heiser hurt her back gardening last year, the pain was all too familiar. Janice has suffered from spinal stenosis for almost 30 years. The condition, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, caused pain down her leg with sitting or standing. She has tried various treatment methods over the years including epidural injections and even a surgery in 2000, but the pain always came back. 

After her most recent injury Janice made an appointment with Coordinated Health Physiatrist Jason Smith, MD. He treated her with a series of epidural injections. However, when those did little to ease her discomfort, Dr. Smith referred her to Coordinated Health Spine Surgeon Chris Wagener, MD. 

“It was horrible. I had constant pain all the time and I couldn’t do half of what I wanted to do. I really enjoy going to Dorney Park with my grand babies and I just couldn’t anymore. It just changed my lifestyle,” says Janice. 

Dr. Wagener reviewed Janice’s history and did a thorough physical exam. He concluded that she had moderate to severe spinal stenosis between discs L4 and L5. “Stenosis is just a big word for pinched nerve. It can be caused by several things and in Janice’s case it was multifactorial. There was a little bit of a disc bulge, a little bit of bone spur, there were a lot of things causing the spinal stenosis or pinching,” says Dr. Wagener.

After ensuring that she had exhausted all conservative non-operative measures, Dr. Wagener suggested surgery. 

Janice says that hearing she needed surgery was actually a relief. “I just wanted to get back to enjoying my life without the constant pain,” she says. 

Dr. Wagener performed a minimally invasive decompression and fusion. It involved a smaller incision and modern techniques to minimize pain and disability. Janice only spent one night in the hospital and improved almost immediately. 

Janice says she knew right away that the surgery had been helpful. “Within a day I could tell a difference. The pain down my leg was very minimal and from the time I came out of the hospital I didn’t need Advil or any other pain medication,” she says.

Dr. Wagener says Janice was a model patient. “Janice was very motivated. She got up right away, did everything I asked of her and really rehabbed on her own,” he says. 

These days, Janice is back to enjoying her active lifestyle – including trips to Dorney Park with her grandchildren and gardening. She has nothing but praise for Dr. Wagener. “I love Dr. Wagener. He told you exactly what he wanted to do and he told you what to expect. I just put trust and faith that he could take care of my problem and he did,” says Janice. 

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