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Nurture fixes nature

Evolution of treatments makes woman's back pain extinct.

Article Author: Kristi Tucker

Article Date:

Janice Eger is back to riding bikes after successful back surgery.

Some people are born with back issues that can lead to pain later in life. Janice Eger, 74, is one of them.

"I've had arthritis since I was 13 and I also have kyphosis. I think I inherited it because my mom had a rounded back," she said. "That all contributed to my issues."

Kyphosis is defined as an excessive forward curvature of the spine, which causes hunching of the back. It's most common in older women and often related to osteoporosis, though there's likely a hereditary component.

A real downer

A few years ago, Eger had her first back surgery with Gregory Keller, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute (JOI), to treat a degenerative and arthritic condition in her mid-back, and was pleased with the result: no pain! So, when she starting feeling new discomfort five years later, she returned. For a time, she worked with Dr. Keller to manage the pain, now attributed to a new area of arthritis on her back, with injections. In 2021, those stopped working, and Eger could barely walk.

"My whole leg would give way with shooting pain," she said. "I'm an active person. This was the first time the thought of living with the pain really got me down."

"Dr. Keller is very conservative with his approach to treatment, which I appreciate," added Eger. "We tried everything we could before surgery, but it just didn't work, so we opted for spinal fusion." This procedure is performed to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in the spine and eliminate motion between them.

'You don't have to live with pain.'

Many patients suffer for years before talking to their doctor about a surgical solution to their pain. The hesitancy is sometimes based on stories they've heard from friends and family about their own experiences, or their worry about a long recovery period.

Most people don't realize how far we've come when it comes to the surgical treatment of back pain.

Dr. Keller said, "We offer so many solutions that are better than even five or 10 years ago. At Baptist Health and JOI, we're on the leading edge in the use of those state-of-the-art treatments. We can offer patients relief with minimally invasive techniques and smaller incisions, which can lead to less postoperative pain, a faster recovery time and better outcomes. You don't have to live with pain."

No more suffering

Today, Eger is getting back to her normal life. "My husband and I are walking every morning. It's so nice to do that without pain. I've also started lifting small weights to strengthen my arms and back. I will be eternally grateful for Dr. Keller for giving me my mobility back." 

You don't have to live with back pain. The teams at Baptist Health and JOI offer patients the most comprehensive and advanced back pain care, and can help find the right solution for you. Go to baptistjax.com/back or call 904.202.BACK for an appointment.

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