How Jack Got His Life Back with Ortho RI Spine Care

Jack may be retired, but he still takes staying active seriously. He works out vigorously with a personal trainer for three two-hour sessions per week, and spends plenty of time on the water in his kayak. But in 2020 when the pain in his neck and left shoulder became so severe he couldn’t exercise, he knew he had a serious problem.

To find a solution, Jack turned to Dr. Akshay Yadhati, a spine surgeon at Ortho Rhode Island. Jack had been a patient at Ortho Rhode Island before, working with Dr. Eric Walsh, and he knew he could count on the providers there to get him back to living an active life.

“They have treated me like a partner in my healthcare decisions,”
Jack said of Ortho Rhode Island.

Dr. Yadhati provided the exceptional and collaborative care Jack had expected. After reviewing Jack’s MRI, Dr. Yadhati explained that he had severely compressed nerves in his neck, and discussed treating the condition with a procedure known as anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) from the C4 to C7 vertebrae.

ACDF is a surgery to remove one or more damaged discs in the neck to relieve nerve pressure. The vertebrae above and below the removed disc(s) are then fused together using a bone graft to stabilize the spine.

Jack was prepared to have the surgery. But even with a clear understanding of his diagnosis and the treatment he needed to recover, he was faced with an unforeseen obstacle: the Covid-19 pandemic. Most hospital operating rooms at the time were closed to surgeries that were not immediately life-threatening – a category that included the ACDF Jack needed.

And the pain had become so debilitating Jack could barely sleep, let alone exercise. For five weeks, until he was finally able to get surgery, he couldn’t sleep in his own bed, due to the pressure and pain caused by lying on his back. Instead, he had to sleep propped up by pillows in a chair, nodding off intermittently for a total of only three to four hours a night.

“As soon as I would lean back [in the chair] and my shoulder would touch, it would wake me up instantly with pain,” Jack said.

When operating rooms became available for the procedure, Dr. Yadhati scheduled Jack’s surgery right away. He removed three discs from Jack’s cervical spine, and fused the four surrounding vertebrae.

The surgery was a success, and the impact it had on Jack’s life was immediate. For the first time in weeks, he wasn’t living with pain. And in the coming months of rehabilitation, he returned to the activities that had brought him joy in his retirement, from lifting weights to paddling his kayak.

“The two key things that I would say are: it’s very personal attention that everyone gives you, and they really fill me in on understanding what’s going on with my body.”

“I’m a hundred percent pain-free, and have full use of everything,” Jack said. “I got my strength back in less than a year.”

And as excited as Jack is to have returned to his life, he is equally grateful to Dr. Yadhati and his surgical team at Ortho Rhode Island. He stresses that their patient-focused approach and commitment to helping him make educated health decisions has made all the difference.

Learn more about spine care at Ortho Rhode Island. To schedule an appointment, call 401-777-7000